How’s your Farsi

“How’s your Farsi?”

Arshan asked me that question near the end of our consultation. Arshan and his wife-to-be, Farrin, shared their vision for their wedding ceremony. They wanted to weave both Canadian and Persian traditions into their ceremony. They would be seated at the Sofreh, and they wanted to stand before their family and friends to declare personal vows.

I was immediately excited by their lively personalities and creativity.   And, the integration of diverse cultural traditions – the blending of old and new – sounded like a wonderful challenge.

And then Arshan posed that question, “How’s your Farsi?” He had a glint in his eye as he asked. I was pretty sure he knew my Farsi was non-existent. On the one hand, he was teasing me. On the other, he was quite serious.  Farrin explained, “For our wedding to be accepted in our community, there are a few questions that need to be asked. According to tradition, you’ll need to ask them in Farsi. How do you feel about that?”

Part of me was apprehensive, but another part was gung ho! “I’m game to learn!” was my response. I’m not sure if that response clinched the deal, but Farrin and Arshan decided to put their confidence in me and asked me to serve as their Celebrant. I was thrilled.

A couple of weeks before the ceremony, Arshan sent me the Farsi questions along with an audio clip of him speaking them very, very slowly!   For fifteen minutes each day I practiced speaking the questions. I transcribed them phonetically, and listened carefully to Arshan’s pronunciation, trying my best to imitate his accent.

On wedding rehearsal day, I summoned my courage and spoke my Farsi lines before the wedding party. Would they understand what I was saying? Would they laugh? Would they cringe? I was nervous, but I began, “Dooshizeh Farrin…”  When I finished, everybody clapped and cheered! They had a few suggestions for me, but overall they thought I’d done well. Most importantly, they could understand what I was saying!

Those words were the heart of the ceremony for Farrin, Arshan and their Iranian family. I was delighted to deliver them in Farsi, and gratified to help the couple create a truly unique and meaningful wedding ceremony.

Celebrant Marcia Thomson, for Modern Celebrant

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