Everything you need to know about marriage in Iran
Marriage ceremonies are one of the most important events in Iran, and they are celebrated according to Islamic principles. Over 180,000 marriages are held in Iran each year. An Iranian wedding is also called a Persian wedding, and is made up of traditions and ceremonial rites that date back to Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest faiths in Iranian religion, according to the Iranian-speaking prophet, Zoroaster. These unique characteristics of this faith include belief in free will; belief in the concept of heaven, hell, and angels; and belief in judgement after death. This faith was the main religion of Iran before Islam.
The concepts of the theory of Persian have changed over the years since the presence of Islam. However, the majority of the marriage traditions and ceremonial rites still remain the same even in this post-Islamic era. Iran is made up of several diverse ethnic groups with different beliefs, and there are unique traditions based on respective ethnicities.
How an Iranian marriage is done
In ancient times, Iranian marriages used to be arranged by the parents and older members of the family. However, some traditional families and rural regions still practice this act. In modern times, people are allowed to choose whoever they want to marry freely, but they must still seek the consent of the parents of both sides. The parents must agree and bless the union between a bride and groom before they get married. Even in modern times, the parents of the groom often have to reach out to the parents and members of the bride’s family to formally ask for the hand of the bride in the marriage as well as the family’s consent.
Upon the consent of both parents and families, the marriage is announced to the public. In ancient times, musicians played loud music at gatherings to announce the upcoming marriage to the people in the village, town, or region. The date is announced and various guests attend to celebrate the couple and wish them a happily married life. Traditionally, in the past, the bride and groom used to be dressed in white with garlands on their heads. This is less common in current times as several couples getting married now opt for western and European dress codes.
The groom and his family usually go to the bride’s family to formally ask for her hand in marriage. It is custom for the groom to bring gifts, flowers, sweets, and various beautiful jewelry to ask for the bride’s hand. If the bride and her family accept the proposal, the groom may then offer her family more presents and gifts. An engagement party is held shortly after, which involves a lavish gathering and party of the couple, family, and friends. Rings are to be exchanged by the bride and groom. The ring is usually made of gold, and it is not required for stones to be on it.
The groom sends the engagement ring to the bride’s home for her acceptance with the members of her family. Once the ring is accepted, the groom offers the family more presents and gift items a few days before the actual wedding date. Some modern Persian marriages may not include all these customs. However, traditional families still practice all these ceremonial rites as it is quite a big deal to them.
All financial arrangements about who will finance the marriage as well as the course of action after the couple gets married are to be discussed and agreed on before the marriage takes place. Wealthy families were often able to make these arrangements easily and plan the marriage as soon as possible. Families that were not financially buoyant often negotiated the amount to be paid for the wedding as well as what should be included in the marriage contract. Wedding invitations are often sent to guests and the friends of the couple in whatever way they deem fit.
Types of marriage in Iran
There are two types of marriages recognized by the law in Iran. These are temporary and permanent marriages. The major difference between these two marriages is their respective durations. Let’s go into details about each of them.
A temporary Iranian marriage is referred to as ‘mut'a or "sigheh". It is a legal union between Muslim men and women where a contractual agreement is signed. This marriage contract states that the man and woman are legally united for a stipulated amount of time, for which the woman is to be paid until the duration lapses. These types of marriages were popular in ancient times when men who travelled long distances often took wives for a short period of time.
The Mut’a is only practiced by Shia Muslims. The Sunni Muslims considered it to be haram (forbidden). The act of temporary marriage was often related to prostitution due to the payment and limited timeframe involved. In modern times, temporary marriages are still being held, especially when the spouses involved travel often or live in distant places from each other.
This type of marriage is the most widely practiced one in Iran. It is the direct opposite of temporary marriages. Permanent marriages are eternal unions between partners, and they are not subject to time constraints or payments by either of the spouses. In permanent traditional marriages, the first step involved is the courtship process referred to as Khastegri.
The way this was performed in ancient times is quite different from the manner in which it is performed in current modern times. In the olden days, families who had a son who was of age and ready to get married looked for potential brides for their son in families in similar circumstances. After a bride is selected, the courtship begins.
Khastegãri is practiced in a different way in modern Iran. The practice is often initiated by the man and the woman based on love and a mutual agreement between them. During this process, the partners spend time with each other and try to get to know each other better as well as their respective families. The families must consent to the union between both partners.
This is the ceremony that is held after the formal proposal and public announcement of the upcoming marriage by the couple and their family. This is the main part of the marriage rites where gifts are shared and the man and woman, as well as all members of their families, are happy and fully accept each other. It is customary for the family of the groom to give the bride’s family gifts. In Iranian culture, the jewelry set is an important thing. This must be paid in full by the groom and offered to the bride as a gift after signing the marriage contract.
Marriage Traditions in Iran
In most Iranian marriages, the ceremonial rites are straightforward. However, due to the large number of ethnic groups, there are still various unique traditions held by couples. Some of these traditions are stated below.
Actual Wedding Ceremonies
The wedding ceremony in Aidan is divided into two separate parts. The first ceremony is known as the Aghd. This is the ceremony where the couple become husband and wife legally and according to their religion. The ceremony usually runs for several hours on a single day. It can take up to 6 hours or more and lasts from noon to midnight. The guests give various kinds of gifts, such as jewelry or money, to the gifts and wish them a happy married life.
The second ceremony, known as the Aroosi, is held a year or more after the Aghd.It often takes place in the night and continues till dawn the next day. How long this ceremony takes depends on the type of people present and the cultures of the couples and the region or community. Some families opt for small weddings with just close friends and relatives, where there is a small party. The small ceremonies do not take as much time as the big ones. Families who choose big ceremonies are usually quite wealthy, and these types of ceremonies are held in big halls or gardens with invitations from family, friends, and a large number of guests. The party includes a lot of dancing and feasting in celebration of the newlyweds.
Lorestan is a province in Iran, and there are some unique marriage traditions in this region. One of the most popular traditions associated with Lorestan is the receiving of Shirbaha. The Shirbaha is a gift by the groom to the family of the bride as a way of thanking them for raising his bride-to-be. Another tradition that is popular with the Lorestans is Sarkaleh. The groom’s family buys clothes and different types of gifts for the girls and women in the family. This was presented to them as a gift for the wedding. Lorestan weddings are usually very colorful and lavish, with a lot of wine and dining by the families and guests present during the ceremony.
Sometimes, the newlyweds may have coordinated dances with the wedding party while waving their colorful attire in the air. They also get to receive gifts from the guests, and people say prayers for them and wish them a married life filled with peace and endless happiness. The course of the wedding ceremony usually takes several hours.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Laws and Rights
Polygamy is legal in Iran. For men, they are allowed to take up to four wives and hold temporary marriages for a duration of their choice. A man is only allowed to marry a second wife after he gets consent from his wife-to-be and permission from a court in the country. According to Iranian law, a man may only ask for the hand of a woman provided that she is not currently married and there are no obstructions to the marriage. The minimum age for marriage in Iran was 13 and 15, for girls and boys, respectively. However, a new bill was passed in 2022, which set the legal age of marriage for boys at 18 and for boys at 16.
A man has the right to marry multiple women, but women have the right to marry only one man. A woman has the right to divorce her husband provided he is mentally ill, physically abusive, an addict or imprisoned. If a divorced woman remarries, she forfeits child custody according to Iranian law. The cost of maintenance for the wife and the entire household is the responsibility of the husband.
Marriages in Iran can cost anywhere between $8000 and $25,000. There are some basic expenses the couple has to pay for, such as flowers and other decorations, photography, transportation, bridal gown, make-up, music, food and drinks, etc. The extent of the money spent depends on how wealthy the couples and families getting married are. Wealthier families often have lavish weddings with a large number of guests. It all comes down to personal preference, as there are some wealthy couples that prefer to have a small marriage.
A man is expected to provide financial support to his wife and children in a marriage. Such financial support and maintenance may include a place of dwelling, clothing, and food. Wives are expected to love their husbands, remain faithful and care for the children and household. A wife is allowed to have a job as long as she is permitted by her husband. The husband must cater to the needs of the children and provide them with a good education.
Iranian weddings are one of the most important and popular events held by citizens of Iran. Since the country is Islamic, all marriage traditions and ceremonial rites follow the Islamic practices and traditions based on the region and community of the spouses.
Iran allows both temporary and permanent marriages. They are both legally binding and recognized by law. Iran is culturally diverse as there are several ethnic groups in the country, and they all have different traditions. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriages in Iran.
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