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Across Coveted Lands by Arnold Henry Savage Landor

In the house of the bridegroom


Guns are fired and fireworks let off along the road and from the bride's and bridegroom's houses. One good feature of all Persian festivities is that the poor are never forgotten. So, when the bride is driven along the streets, a great many sheep and camels are sacrificed before her carriage to bring the bride luck and to feed with their flesh the numberless people who congregate round to divide the meat of the slaughtered animals. In the house of the bridegroom, too, any number of sheep are sacrificed and distributed among the poor.

There are great rejoicings when the procession arrives at the house, where the bridegroom is anxiously awaiting to receive his spouse. As she alights from the carriage more sheep are sacrificed on the door-step--and the husband, too, is sacrificed to a certain extent, for again he has to content himself with merely conducting his bride to the harem and to leave her there. It is only late in the evening, when all the guests, stuffed with food, have departed, that the husband is led by his best man to a special room prepared for him and his wife in the harem. The bride comes in, heavily veiled, in the company of her father or some old and revered relation, who clasps the hands of husband and wife and joins them together, making a short and appropriate speech of congratulation and good wishes for a happy conjugal existence. Then very wisely retreats.

There is yet another obstacle: the removal of the long embroidered veil which hangs gracefully over the bride's head down to her knees. This difficulty is easily surmounted by another present of jewellery, known as the _ruhmuhah_ or "reward for showing the face." There is no further reward needed after that, and they are at last husband and wife, not only in theory but in fact.

True, some gold coins have to be left under the furniture to appease expecting servants, and the next day fresh trials have to be endured by the bride, who has to receive her lady friends and accept their most hearty congratulations. This means more music, more professional dancing, more sweets, more sherbet, more tea. But gradually, even the festivities die out, and wife and husband can settle down to a really happy, quiet, family life, devoid of temptations and full of fellow-feeling and thoughtfulness.

Ten days before this last event takes place the wife is by custom compelled to send to the husband's house the endowment which by her contract she must supply: the whole furniture of the apartments complete from the kitchen to the drawing-room, both for the man's quarter and for her own. Besides this--which involves her in considerable expense--she, of course, further conveys with her anything of which she may be the rightful owner. Her father, if well-off, will frequently present her on her wedding-day with one or more villages or a sum in cash, and occasionally will settle on her what would go to her in the usual course of time after his death. All this--in case of divorce or litigation--remains the wife's property.


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