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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

And the women have some fun all to themselves in the harem

"I have married this young lady to this man and this man to this young lady."

The men present on one side of the curtain nod and (in Arabic) say they accept the arrangement. The women are overheard to say words to the same effect from the other side of the partition. Congratulations are exchanged, and more sherbet, tea and sweets consumed.

The religious ceremony is over, but not the trials of the bridegroom, now legal husband.

When sufficient time has elapsed for him to recover from his previous mental anguish, he is conveyed by his mother or women relatives into the harem. All the women are veiled and line the walls of the drawing-room, where a solitary chair or cushion on the floor is placed at the end of the room. He is requested to sit upon it, which he meekly does. A small tray is now brought in with tiny little gold coins (silver if the people are poor) mixed with sweets. The bridegroom bends his head; and sweets and coins are poured upon his back and shoulders. Being round--the coins, not the shoulders--they run about and are scattered all over the room. All the ladies present gracefully stoop and seize one pellet of gold, which is kept for good luck; then servants are called in to collect the remainder which goes to their special benefit.

This custom is not unlike our flinging rice for luck at a married couple.

The bridegroom then returns to the men's quarters, where he receives the hearty congratulations of relatives and friends alike.

From this moment the girl becomes his wife, and the husband has the right to see her whenever he chooses, but not to cohabit with her until further ordeals have been gone through.

The husband comes to meet his wife for conversation's sake in a specially reserved room in the harem, and each time he comes he brings presents of jewellery or silks or other valuables to ingratiate himself. So that, by the time the real wedding takes place, they can get to be quite fond of one another.

There is no special limit of time for the last ceremony to be celebrated. It is merely suited to the convenience of the parties when all necessary arrangements are settled, and circumstances permit.

Usually for ten days or less before the wedding procession takes place a festival is held in the bridegroom's house, when the Mullahs, the friends, acquaintances, relations and neighbours are invited--fresh guests being entertained on each night. Music, dancing, and lavish refreshments are again provided for the guests. The men, of course, are entertained separately in the men's quarter, and the women have some fun all to themselves in the harem.

On the very last evening of the festival a grand procession is formed in order to convey the bride from her house to that of her husband. He, the husband, waits for her at his residence, where he is busy entertaining guests.

All the bridegroom's relations, with smart carriages--and, if he is in some official position, as most Persians of good families are,--with infantry and cavalry soldiers, bands and a large following of friends and servants on horseback and on foot proceed to the bride's house.

A special carriage is reserved for the bride and her mother or old lady relation, and another for the bridesmaids. She is triumphantly brought back to the bridegroom's house, her relations and friends adding to the number in the procession.

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