A guest, or mahman, is a very important person here in this part of the world. When someone comes over, you automatically start the royal treatment. First you lavish on the greetings: Khaste na basheed, befarmayeed, etc. Then you pour on the delicacies: Fruits, cookies, shirini, etc. Tea is automatic – not requested.
I learned that the hard way.
Soon after moving, we had Iranian guests and I asked them if they wanted tea. They politely said, no, it’s OK. So I sat down and talked with the guests. In my defense, in case my mother reads this and faints with embarrassment of my treatment of guests, I had sweets and some sandwiches already laid out.
Then my Iranian friend came to me and said in my ear: “You just make tea. Even if someone says no. Just make some and offer it.”
Well, I’ll be darned. So I made some tea and served it to my guests, and sure enough, everyone took a cup. Even those who said they didn’t want it. Lesson learned.
In this regard, shirini (or sweets) is very popular. At every corner you will find shirini shops carrying a variety of pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. You never go to a person’s house empty handed. You always arrive with a kilo of shirini. And in Qom, the best shirini is found at Boye Gandom in Dor e Shahr. I love their selection of cakes and pastries, not to mention just standing in their shop is a glorious experience. The wonderful smells of a bakery just wafting around. It’s heaven.
In Islam, it is said that a guest brings with himself/herself rizq, or sustenance. As a child I would groan when guests were coming because that meant extra cleaning up and extra work. My father would always remind us with this saying, that guests are a blessing from Allah. And now that I am older, this certainly rings true. There is no time that a guest comes and I feel burdened, rather I feel like our home has extra light. There is laughter and happiness, and the sharing of food. It is a beautiful time, indeed.
May your home always be filled with joy, laughter and the blessing of guests!