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Sunday, 10 October 2010

Village Wedding (1)

For a long time I had wanted to see a village wedding and compare mentally its customs to those of Iranian city weddings and those of my native island of Kassos, Dodecanese, Greece. My chance came last Wednesday when we were invited to a wedding of a distant relative in a village outside Ab-yek, in the province of Qazvin. The wedding invitations were delivered by the groom himself about a week before the wedding. Unlike city wedding receptions which take place in especially hired reception halls between 7 and 11 pm, this invitation mentioned the timing as 4 pm until the end of the celebration.

We set off from Tehran at 3 pm and, after taking a wrong turn, arrived at the village at about 5.20 pm. As we drove into the central maidan (square) of the village, the honking of car horns and the smoke of wild rue on coals (against the evil eye), filled the air. As it happened, a couple of cars ahead of us followed the bridal car to the groom’s house. According to the village custom, the bride’s and the groom’s families hold separate celebrations: the bride’s family hold a celebration and dinner the night before the wedding, called hanna-aqd, and another one on the following morning followed by lunch and finishing in the afternoon. Then the bride leaves her paternal home for the groom’s house, where the celebration of the groom’s family takes place. Since we are related to the groom’s family, this is the feast we were invited to.

The groom’s family has three sons. When the first one got married, a house was built along the large yard next to his paternal house. In preparation for this, the second son’s, wedding, another house was built next to the other two and the yard was extended and enclosed. Building work is about to start on the third son’s house on another side of the yard, so eventually the parents and the three sons and their families will all live in one residential compound. The family also has four daughters, but they have married and moved away.

The favoured mode of residence, in this area at least, is patrilocality: since the husband provides the accommodation, married women move to their husbands’ villages), Patrilocality is generally common in Iran and, as far as I know, in most parts of Greece, especially the mainland. However, interestingly, in my native island of Kassos, in the southern Dodecanese, the father of the bride provides the accommodation of the married couple, so the groom moves to the bride’s village (matrilocality).

More on other similarities and differences to follow soon.