Starting Off September With A Sofreh

So September has finally arrived
and so by the way, has Summer.
Finally, we have what I have longed for, hot sunny days and evenings so lovely that you can sit out doors comfortably without a sweater.
Of course this late summer heat has had its drawbacks too with the power outage that affected large parts of San Diego, Orange and Riverside counties.  That's millions and millions of people without air conditioning in temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s.  But as one blog commenter wrote, the power outage was taken in true laid back Southern California style. Instead of riots in the streets, neighbors came together for barbecues and beers.

Well anyhoo, getting back on topic, I had the pleasure to attend a full on Persian wedding last weekend.  It was amazing and kudos to Mariam, the mother of the bride, who organized this lovely event.  Layla, the bride, a school friend of my daughter, was lovely.

Obviously, the wedding was very different than a traditional Catholic or Protestant wedding that I am used to so I wanted to share some photos, but do forgive my lousy photos from my iphone. So instead of the bride and groom standing before and alter they are seated next to a dressed up table with the traditional Persian sofreh which holds specific symbolic items. 
The wedding ceremony was conducted in Farsi and I have no idea what was actually said. An interesting element was when the female relatives held a lace cloth over the bride and groom and did this thing with large cones of sugar which was meant to sweeten the marriage.
So after the approximately hour long wedding ceremony I made my way up to the bride and groom to congratulate them and to check out all the ceremonial stuff which sits before the mirror which symbolizes bringing light and brightness to the future.

The table was decorated with lots of frippery and frou frou

So here are the contents of the sofreh.
  • A specially baked and decorated flatbread "Noon-e Sangak" with blessing "Mobaarak-Baad" written in calligraphy on it. The writing is usually with either saffron "Zaffaron", cinnamon, Nigella seeds, or glitters. This symbolizes prosperity for the feasts and for the couple's life thereafter. A separate platter of this flat bread, feta cheese and fresh herbs are also present to be shared with the guests after the ceremony, to bring the new couple happiness and prosperity.

  • A basket of decorated eggs and a basket of decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in the shell to symbolize fertility.

  • A basket of pomegranates and/or apples for a joyous future. Pomegranates are considered heavenly fruits and apples symbolize the divine creation of mankind.

  • A cup of rose water extracted from special Persian roses "Gol-e Mohammadi" to perfume the air.

  • A bowl made out of crystallized sugar "Kaas-e Nabaat/Shaakh-e Nabaat" to sweeten life for the newly wed.

  • A brazier "Manghal" holding burning coals sprinkled with wild rue "Espand" a popular incense. Wild rue is used in many Zoroastrian ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It is believed to keep the evil eye away and bring on plenty of health.

  • A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity.

  • A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric to be held over the bride and bridegroom's head throughout the ceremony by various happily married female relatives (mostly bride's close family members).

  • Two sugar cones "Kalleh Ghand" made out of hardened sugar to be used during the ceremony. These sugar cones are grinded together above the bride and bridegroom's head (over the scarf held above their heads) throughout the ceremony to shower them in sugar (symbolizing sweetness and happiness).

  • A cup of honey to sweeten life. Immediately after the couple is married they each should dip one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feed it to the other one.

  • A needle and seven strands of colored thread to figuratively sew up the mother-in-law's lips from speaking unpleasant words to the bride! The shawl that is held above the couple's head throughout the ceremony is sewed in one corner by the needle and threads.

  • A copy of the couple's Holy Book is placed on the spread. For Christian couples, it would be the Bible, for Zorastians Avesta, For Muslims Qur'an, .... This symbolizes God's blessing for the couple. Some couples use a poetry book such as Khayyam's poetry collection or Hafiz poetry collection instead of a religeous holy book. Traditionally "Avesta" the ancient Zoroastrian holy book was used by the majority of Iranins and Bible by the Iranian Christians during the ceremony and readings were made from it. Eventually Qur'an replaced Avesta for most wedding ceremonies after Iran was attacked by Arabs and forced to accept Islam.

  • After the wedding there was a hour long reception with hors d'oeuvres served and then the guests moved into the dining room.  The tables were set simply except for the elaborate flower arrangements.

    After about another half an hour, the bride and groom entered and did some kind of Persian-ish  dance thing and then they had their traditional first dance. And so commenced a few hours of dancing to both Persian and American music.  (FYI, I love Persian music and dancing.  It's so sexy.)

    Meanwhile, the bride and groom worked the room and greeted their guests.
    Here is the lovely Layla with my daughter.
    I loved her emerald and diamond necklace and earrings.
    (Did I mention that not only is Layla lovely, she is super smart too and just took her medical boards)
    Persian women dress to impress and we did too...or at least we tried.
    What can I say, we are joiners.
    My daughter wore a long bronzy-gold gown with a jewel toned silk shawl.
    And gi-normous diamond jewelry.
    Unfortunately, I was utterly under dressed in my blue silk suit
    and I hate to say it but even my sapphire and diamond jewelry was understated.
    Next time I will know to pull out all the stops when it comes dressing up for a Persian wedding.

    And speaking of dressing up...I sashayed around Rodeo Drive a bit on Thursday night for Fashion's Night Out.  Bvlgari, Breguet, Cristofle and Etro hosted special receptions for the Beverly Hills Women's Club and I managed to make it to the Bvlgari party, then it was off to dinner at Mortons. Every once in a while, it's great to go to dinner at some place traditional like Mortons....don't you agree?

    Personally, I think that the whole Fashion's Night Out concept is a little lame.  What do you think?

    Tonight, I'm off to the gala dinner for the 100th anniversary of the Virgina Robinson estate and gardens in Beverly Hills. 

    Tomorrow will be a quiet day at home, god willing, with plenty of down time for remembrance of those we lost a decade ago.

    What are you up to this weekend?