- The main piece: Iranian Weddings
“So there’s multiple ceremonies. So once the man asks for permission from the to-be bride’s dad, there’s a mini celebration just between the intimate family members. And then, following that, there’s kinda an engagement party. So kinda similar to Nowruz, there’s different items that are symbolic. Like honey: both the groom and bride dip their fingers into honey. That’s symbolic of life being sweet, fruitful.
“Following that is the actual wedding. That’s usually a big production. There’s this special veil thing, kinda like this really long lacy scarf thing. Both the bride and groom walk under it and it symbolizes them starting a new life together. Walking under that is like your rite of passage into adulthood and married life. They’re not as religious. I think there’s a religious one and a normal one. Like my parents got married in a park, by a lake or something.”
- Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?
“Um… well, I’ve never actually been to an Iranian wedding. But I’ve been to prewedding ceremonies. I always saw them growing up and heard about my parents’ park wedding, and I had this grand image of me when I was a grown up, walking under the long white scarf with my future husband. I think it’s an adulthood kinda thing just because they used to get married so young there.”
- Finally, your thoughts about the piece
I think that it is interesting that there are so many ceremonies involved, with different levels of guests invited. The number of events and variety of guests at each show what a big transition marriage is, from the merging of two families to a large community event. The emphasis of general Persian traditions over religious customs in these weddings is unusual, as most weddings tend to have a religious component. This shows that the role of the community is the highest, higher than any God, in this coming-of-age, rite-of-passage style ceremony. It also shows that the Iranian culture has adapted to view religion less and shared heritage and community more as religious heterogeneity increases. Moreover, symbolism is shown to play a large role again in such community, transitional life events, in order to cast protective and good omens before entering the next stage of life.
- Informant Details
The informant is an 18-year old Iranian-Canadian female. She was born in Iran but moved to Canada as a young child, then moved again to southern California as a teenager. Learning about her parents’ Iranian culture helped her feel a sense of continuity throughout the different moving experiences she had. They also helped her feel more rooted and attached to her place of birth.