- Zoroastrian wedding
Zoroastrianfaith marriage is encouraged, an institution greatly favoured by the religious texts [Vendidad (IV. 47)] . As of such, a Zoroastrian wedding is a cause for celebration.
Age of Eligibility
According to Zoroastrian texts texts both males [Yt. VIII., Tir, 13-14; Yt.XIV, Warharan, 17; Yasna IX., 5] and females [Vendidad XIV, 15] are considered to be ready for marriage at the age of 15. In contemporary times these thresholds are, in practice, more like 21 and 16 respectively. In India, where most Zoroastrians reside, the
Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936sets thresholds of 21 and 18, with marriages between younger Parsis requiring a parental signature on the marriage certificate.
Traditionally marriages are arranged by the parents with the consent of the children. In recent times however, it is not uncommon for this system to be reversed, with the parents consulted about a decision made by the marrying parties.
There exist ceremonies which are observed prior to the marriage. They will be most likely spread over several days. Ceremonies vary, and not all the rites described below may be observed in one wedding. Other customs may be included also.
Prior to the Marriage
"also known by the older name of Nâm pâdvûn"
Presents of silver coins are prepared by the ladies of both the bride and bridegroom's families in the homes of the marrying parties, each group going to the other's home. It is upon this
betrothalthat the bride takes the name of her husband, even if the marriage does not later occur. This betrothal is often performed quickly after a marriage is arranged.
Two lamps are lit, one in each of the homes of the marrying parties. Once again the ladies travel to the home of the other party and place a silver coin upon the lamp. It is at this occasion that formal gifts are exchanged. This includes the exchange of wedding rings.
The third day before the wedding, is regarded as the day for gift exchanging. On this day the groom's family visits the bride's home to present her with all the gifts like clothes and jewelry. The ritual is known as Adarni. The bride herself may also go over to the groom's home for this tradition but the groom cannot do the same. The relatives, neighbors and friends are treated to a traditional meal of sev and dahi, boiled eggs and bananas.
Auspicious days, such as new moon day or Hormazd, the first day of the Parsee month, are generally favoured for the wedding ceremony, coming on the fourth day of festivities. The first day of these is known as "mândav-saro", when a twig of a tree, generally a mango-tree, is planted near the door, symbolic of a wish for fertility. This is followed by two "Varadh-patra" days when religious ceremonies in honour of the dead are performed.
With the marriage ceremony occurring in the evening of the fourth day the bride and bridegroom will have prior taken baths, known as "nân". The marriage must be performed in front of an assembly of witnesses, the "Parsi Marriage and divorce Act" requires at least two witnesses as well as the priest. [ [http://www.sudhirlaw.com/parsimarract.htm The Parsi Marriage And Divorce Act ] ]
The ceremonial dress of the Parsees is the "Jâmâ-pichhoir" of which the bride wears a white variety, with the bridegroom sporting the mark of a
Kunkunon his forehead.
A few hours before the ceremony a procession forms carrying gifts to the bridegroom's house, usually accompanied by music. It then turns to the house of the bride where, typically, the marriage occurs. The assembly, once seated, awaits the arrival of the groom who is greeted at the door by the mother of the bride. Here a fresh Kunkun mark is placed upon his head.
During the ceremony rice is often used as
good lucksymbol, with the bride and groom sprinkling each other with cupfuls of rice. So as to remove any evil destined for the groom an egg is passed round his head three times then thrown to the ground and broken, destroying the evil with it. A similar ritual is then performed with a coconut, and then with a small tray of water which is thrown to the ground.
At a point during the evening the groom will dip his hand into a water-pot ("var-behendoo") which was part of the dowry. Into this pot he drops a silver coin, as a mark of appreciation for the gift.
When the bride and groom take their seats the groom sits to the right of the bride and they both face east. Rice is placed on trays either side of the couple to be thrown while they recite their benedictions. Candles, fire being an important symbol in the Zoroastrian faith, are placed either side also. The couple are flanked by a pair of witnesses, usually married relations. A curtain of cloth separates the couple.
Two priests officiate. The couple are asked by the priests whether they consent to the marriage. He then joins their hands, a custom known as "Hâthevârô", "hand-fastening". The senior priest places the rights hands of the couple into each other. Then a piece of cloth is passed round the chairs of both and tied together enclosing them in a circle. The priest then fastens, seven times, with raw twist their right hands which are grasped by each other. The prayer of "Yatha Ahu Vairyo" is recited throughout.
The curtain is then dropped and the couple throw rice over each other, the first to do so is said to "win".
The senior priest then blesses the couple by saying:
May the Creator, the omniscient Lord, grant you a progeny of sons and grandsons, plenty of means to provide yourselves, heart-ravishing friendship, bodily strength, long life and an existence of 150 years!
Various questions are then asked of the bride, groom and witnesses. Once they have replied, affirming that they have entered into this with righteous mind the priest will recite admonitions and benedictions. Then the couple symbolically eat from the same dish, a rite known as "Dahi-Koomro". At the close of the ceremony, as well as at several junctures prior, nuptial songs may be sung.
A wedding feast then occurs at which toasts are made to, God, the couple, the sacred fire temples, the guests and the host. Fish, a symbol of good luck, is served.
* [http://www.avesta.org/ritual/rcc.htm#chap2 J.J Modi, The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees, Bombay, 1922]
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