Customs and beliefs related to the figure of the host and hospitality in popular culture
Hapitality was and is one of the characteristics that distinguishes the Iranians. They have in their culture many uses related to the host and how to welcome him. This custom has a long tradition. The existence of words such as "mehmânkhâne" (house of the host ") and" mehmânsarâ "are based on the fact that in the Iranian culture the guest plays a special role. In every home there is often a room specially reserved for guests known as "mehmânkhâne".
In some families it is even used to store some crockery, beds and other objects only for use by the guest. In the courtesy of the Iranians there is a famous phrase that speaks of hospitality: "we have a modest home but we put it at your disposal." This formula alludes to the fact that those who pronounce it invite the interlocutor to their home.
Types of guests in popular culture
In the popular Iranian culture there are various types of guests, for example in the past the people of Damavand had given a name to every type of guest: the welcome and unwelcome, the informal, the foreign, the city, the country, the 'guest confidential and foreign, the guest who was part of the group of the wise and the famous and was a source of pride for the landlord, the dishonorable guest (infamous person who was a cause of infamy for those who hosted him), the lucky guest, (the bearer of prosperity at the house and the life of the host and who taught the things he knew to the children and the family members of the host), the spoils-host (he who pretends a lot and expects the same from his host), the confident and intimate guest (in case of a woman she becomes a confidant of the woman who hosts him, otherwise the man and the host never gets tired of him or her), the guest instigator, the guest storyteller (he who frequen he used to tell the stories of legendary heroes like Hossein the Kurdish, Rostam-Nameh, Amir Arsalan, etc., consuming delicious food), the unexpected guest (who went to someone's home without warning), the critical guest and the long-winded guest ( the one who makes the host lose his head from what he talks). Another type of hospitality consisted in sharing, or in preparing the necessary for cooking and collaborating in offering food; then there was the casual guest, for example if someone passing by the street met a friend or relative, took him to his house and in these cases the guest bought some things on the street and sometimes the landlord prevented him. The traveler traveler, the one who returns from a trip and can be of two types: the first is part of the family members or for example is the son who went to the military or who moved to another city for work and come back to see the family and relatives again. The second is the one who, after a few years of absence, returns to see friends and relatives again. In some cases, when someone is invited to a place and the landlord warns friends and acquaintances that he has a guest that evening, he invites them to spend the evening together or sometimes his friends and acquaintances understand who the guest is and they go to their home.
The host's host formulas differ according to the personality and credibility of the host and also to the host's possibilities. Serving tea to welcome a guest is an essential part of receptions in Iran. The uses and customs associated with the host and hospitality in the different regions of Iran have particular characteristics.
Formality in receptions
Usually the landlord, as soon as he sees the guest, says: "the wind has arrived, brought flowers, how is it that you have remembered us? welcome, your visit is particularly pleasing to our eyes, you brought us joy, how is it that you remembered us poor? How beautiful! you have come, you have brought us joy, you have never come here, thank God for having visited us. Do you spend it well? It's all OK? Are you healthy? Your visit has illuminated our eyes. The guest usually, in response to these words, says addressing the landlord: "you would not want a guest? we always disturb you. In some areas, except in large cities, the owner, as soon as the guest crosses the threshold of the house, burns incense for the blessing to spread in the house. In accompanying the guest they usually exchange these words:
Guest: "The time has come for us to remove the disturbance, your availability is great".
Host: "Yours is greater, today you have not had a nice day".
Guest: "You are authoritative, you have embarrassed us.
Host: "Your enemy must be embarrassed, come again here. This house is yours, this time it does not matter, you still have to come and visit us. "
Then the landlord accompanies the guest to the door and even a few steps out of the house and if the guest has come by a means of his own he waits outside until the guest gets in the car and goes away. Among close relatives in some cases accompanying the guest, he is offered food to take him with him. After having consumed the meal, the guest prays for the health of the members of the host family so that their wealth increases and pronounces phrases like: "May you celebrate on the occasion of the pilgrimage or on the occasion of the marriage of your loved ones. May God not let the bread be missing from your table, that your table be always laid out, that you always have health and that the door of your home is always open ". In most areas of Iran the custom is that when food is consumed, as long as the landlord does not start eating, the host does not touch the food and the master must be the last to finish. Another custom linked to receptions and generally when food is consumed, is that if someone suddenly comes in without warning while the meal is served, they are told as a joke: "your mother-in-law loves you" or " you arrived at the right time ".
In general, the Iranians believe that some simple events are a sign of the arrival of a guest in their home, such as: if the scissors fall from the hands of a carpet weaver; if residues are visible in teacups, guests will be received or receptions will be given as many as residues; if by chance the shoes are on one another or the teacups have been lined up; if the girl takes the broom and starts sweeping the backyard; if a woman prepares the dough for bread, a piece of dough falls on the ground; if the younger son of the family enters the house and greets, if the crow near the house croaks or if a dusty cat enters the house; if someone's right eye moves involuntarily; if, in the drinking of tea, a lump of sugar accidentally falls from the landlord's hand, in all these cases one can be sure that a guest will soon arrive.
To conclude, the fact that the Iranians at all times have awaited and await the arrival of a guest and considering their beliefs in this regard, confirms their hospitality.