Zoroastrian Wedding Customs
Indian Zoroastrian (Parsi & Irani)
Page 2. Pre-Wedding Festivities
Madhavsaro / Madar Srava. Tree Planting Ceremony
Commonly called the Madhavsaro (or Madarsaro), this tree-planting ceremony marks the start of a wedding's preparatory celebrations and takes place four days before the wedding. During the ceremony, the families of the bride and the groom independently plant a young tree at their respective family homes. Darius Irani informs us that the name of the ceremony is correctly 'Madar Srava', madar meaning mother and srava meaning conscience. Together, the words invoke the blessings of the gathering for an early fruition of the marriage in motherhood. During the ceremony, the family priest is often in attendance and blesses the sapling. In India the sapling is a mango tree, an Indian symbol of fertility, growth and abundance, while in non-tropical climates it is any tree that bears abundant fruit. In the photographs below, the family used an apple tree.
The rim of the pot is decorated with painted designs. In addition, a square with a cross in the centre is painted with turmeric and red kunkun paste on the side of the pot. The decorated pot is placed on a rangoli or chalk design at the entrances of the bride and groom's homes.
When the pot is ready to receive the sapling, a coconut is circled around the plant seven times and smashed on the ground beside the plant, in a manner identical to that when performing the achu michu ritual. The cracked coconut is set aside for use as described in the next paragraph.
The soil is prepared according to the custom of the family and can include the admixing of precious metals (say gold and silver) flakes, a paan (betel/piper) leaf, supari (betel nut), haldi (turmeric), the cracked coconut, egg and kharak (dry dates). In another method, a hole is made in the potted soil and yoghurt, rice and wheat grains are placed in the cavity before the sapling is transplanted. In yet another method, a plate containing the cracked coconut, yoghurt, sugar, betel nut, kharak (dried dates), and coins are placed on the bottom of the pot. The soil can also be moistened with milk and water.
The sapling is decorated in different ways. For example, a garland can be placed over the sapling, or handkerchief containing some gold and silver can be tied to a branch.
Varadh-Patra / Remembrance
In as much as the madhavsaro celebrates youth and the expectation of a full and fruitful life ahead, Zoroastrians are ever mindful that they carry within them a spiritual flame, the mainyu athra, passed down to them by their ancestors, and that the intended union of the couple will enable them to pass on the flame to subsequent generations. While the next three days are filled with joyous preparatory celebrations, they are also dedicated to the remembrance of family members who have passed before them. Included in the prayers offered at the ceremonies during the three days prior to the wedding, are prayers that name and memorialize both families' ancestors.
Adarni / Bridal Shower
The adarni takes place three days before the wedding and is the occasion when the the groom's family visits the bride's home (the bride may alternatively go over to the groom's family home) to present her with additional gifts such as clothes and jewellery (as in the adravanu). After the giving of gifts the party shares festive food dishes such as sev (vermicelli) and dahi (yoghurt), boiled eggs and bananas.
Supra nu Murat
The supra nu murat ceremony is a ceremony to make and apply turmeric paste on the couple the day before the wedding. It is not a commonly used ceremony.