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Marriage

A different wedding
Why not Zoroastrian?

By Hamid Bakhsheshi
June 24, 2004
iranian.com

Today I was reading some of the letters in iranian.com and came across the word "Aghed", one who marries two people, a Muslim priest, if you would. It reminded me of my good friend's wedding in Kansas City last July. Friends and family gathered from different corners of the US and celebrated the beloved friend's memorable day.

A couple of days before the wedding, Mehrdad, the groom, told me that both he and his wife were not too crazy about the idea of a traditional "aghed". For one thing Kansas City, unlike Los Angeles, doesn't have the variety of "agheds" and what they ended up with was a a Pakistani cleric from the local mosque, who would perform the ceremony in Arabic. That idea just didn't set well with the newly-weds-to-be.

He asked me if I knew how to read the Qoranic marriage vow (Khotbeye aghd). I told him that I could perhaps wing it, but really don't know much about the actual wording. Our other friend, Masoud, always joked around about marrying couples, but he also chickened out.

The idea came up about Zoroastrian traditions. This one really threw everyone in a loop. We got on the Internet and searched and searched until we came up with the Zoroastrian marriage vows.

Two hours before the wedding, Masoud and I sat on the bed in the hotel room and broke the "code". It was a very long ceremony filled with words neither one of us had ever seen nor heard. We kept looking at each other and trying to make sense of some of the words and the correct pronunciation. It was a test of our roots and how well we retained the language. We did ok, perhaps a B+!

So, just a few minutes before the wedding the write up was ready, checked twice and rewritten twice. I volunteered to do the job! We walked down stairs and after getting the word that everyone is ready, I walked in to the room. A beautifully set "Sofreh" with all the candies, and "Shirini", which we brought from LA, "Naan", candle flames dancing on silver candle sticks, the mirror, and yes, despite all the Zoroastrian themes, a Qoran.

It was quite breathtaking. A good friend of more than fifteen years, the wonderful Zohreh, sitting next to him, and an overall and very common Iranian wedding feeling of parents and siblings not being there. Those same old familiar feelings of happy and sad we all have had in these ceremonies.

What was really funny was the whispering of "Aaghaa is ready" and muffled hisses that filled the huge room.

I never thought I would ever be referred to as "Aaghaa"! My wife looking at me proudly across the room, Masoud winking and giving me the thumbs up, which is kind of risky in a room full of Iranians, and the rest of my friends making fun of me, of course! I started, "In the name of the creator..." all in the most beautiful pure Farsi.

Everyone was quiet and respectfully listened. The feeling I had, marrying my good friend, being in the presence of my other good friends, using the language we all ought to be using, all in all, it was good.

There were two cell phones held at my mouth, both connected to Iran, one for the bride's family and the other for the groom. When I finished, everyone enjoyed the freshness of the very different ceremony. A few attendees even asked me if I could do the same for their wedding or their kids. I told them that this was my first time and I am not a "minister" of any kind.

I guess the experience left me asking the question, "why not"? Why not Zoroastrian? Why is there any religion involved in a ceremony like this? I guess there doesn't need to be. Two people who are in love and want to solidify it with marriage and a wedding, why not make it guided by nature alone.

I don't know if my Mother has seen the tape of my friend's wedding or not, but I am sure she would be thrilled.

In the meanwhile, I will be available to do similar ceremonies for any "Hamvatan"!

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