The essence of marriage is the blissful union of two souls in an unbreakable bond of love. A wedding ceremony is essentially marked with sacred rituals in every custom. In a traditional Hindu wedding, taking the “Sath phere” or seven steps is one of the most integral and auspicious rituals.
What do the 7 steps in a Hindu wedding mean? The 7 steps also known as the 7 vows or 7 pheras in a Hindu wedding are taken to symbolize the bride and groom’s commitment to each other, to their future children, with blessings for peace, health, friendship and loyalty. These steps show respect and love for each of their families aswell.
The 7 steps are:
- Nourish each other
- Be each other’s strength
- Prosper and Stay Faithful
- Love and Respect for families
- Care for Children
- To live a healthy and peaceful life
- Bond of Friendship and Loyalty
Here is a look at the meaning of each of the 7 Hindu Wedding steps.
1. Nourish Each Other
The first step starts the sacred ceremony and involves reciting vows starting with the couple praying from the almighty for nourishment. They seek blessing in the form of nourishing food and all that is needed to lead to a respectful and noble life.
In this first step, the groom swears to cherish his wife and take care of the family’s welfare and nourishment. The bride then promises to take the responsibilities of the house and children.
It implies that she will take care of the family by managing the household, finances, and food. They also promise each other to look after the happiness, fortune, and prosperity of the family together.
2. Be Each other’s Strength
The second step involves reciting vows of making promises from the bride and groom to grow together in strength. The couple prays to the lord for mental, physical and spiritual strength to lead a happy life.
The groom commits to provide stability and security to the family with the support of the bride. She solemnly vows to stand by him through all times and be his courage and strength. Further, she agrees to encourage and support him in all his ventures and rejoice together in happiness. In return, all that she demands for is his undivided and unconditional love.
3. Prosper and Stay Faithful
The third step involves reciting the vow of making a promise by the couple to preserve wealth and stay committed to each other. They appeal to god to bless them with prosperity and wisdom. The groom swears to work hard and earn wealth to live a life of contentment. He commits to dedicate all his efforts to the family’s prosperity and children’s education.
The bride agrees to act equally responsible for efficiently managing and preserving wealth. She also promises to be a devoted wife and stay faithful for the rest of her life. She declares that her love is solely for her husband and all other men will be secondary.
4. Love and Respect for families.
The fourth step involves reciting the vow stating mutual love and respect that the couple promises to give each other and to their families. The groom thanks the bride for completing him and filling his life with sacredness.
The bride commits to doing every possible thing to shower her husband’s life with happiness and joy. She promises to strive and please her husband to her best abilities. If ever an event of danger comes in their way, she pledges to lead before her husband to face it.
The couple then swears to take care of each other and both the set of families. They pledge to build trust in the relationship and respect their elders. They also mutually promise to include each other’s say in every decision and live a life of harmony.
5. Care for Children
The fifth steps involves the recitation of the fifth vow highlighting the prayer of the couple to be blessed with noble, healthy and obedient children. The couple promises to instill good values in their children and take care of them. They swear to be responsible parents and gift their future progeny a generous lifestyle.
They assure that they will leave no stone unturned to ensure the best upbringing of their children. The couple also promises to share every joy and grief with each other. Besides, they also pray for the well-being of all living things in the universe.
6. To live a healthy and peaceful life
In the sixth step, the couple recite the vow promising each other to fill each other’s life with joy and peace and stay together forever. They pray to God to bestow them with good health and peaceful long life to spend with each other. The groom acknowledges the happiness the bride has spread in his life while taking the vows.
He seeks affirmation from the bride if she will continue to spread the bliss forever. The bride agrees to it by vowing to be by his side till eternity. The couple also promises to support each other in all devotional acts.
7. Bond of Friendship and Loyalty
The seventh and final step involves reciting the vow representing the bond between the couple that is sealed by lifelong friendship, loyalty, and love. The groom declares that they are now united forever as husband and wife. The bride accepts the groom as her husband in the witness of almighty.
With this, they promise to honour and love each other without any limits until the end. They promise to be companions in every step of life and never break their bond of friendship.
The Ritual of Sath Pheras
The seven steps, referred to as saptapadi, are performed by walking round the sacred fire. Any Hindu marriage is incomplete without these steps and is only deemed complete once they have been conducted.
On the day of the marriage, it is customary for the bride and the groom to sit under the mandap (the scared canopy) for the saptapadi ritual. A sacred fire is lit and a religious prayer (puja) is read by the Hindu priests.
The corners of bride’s saree and the groom’s uttariya are tied during a sacred knot by the priest (3 knots of Hindu marriage). The bride is seated towards left of the groom before the sevens steps begin, and when the seven steps are complete, she will be sitting towards the grooms right side.
They are then asked to take the seven steps round the sacred fire, all the while uttering a special vow with each step. The seven steps are the foremost ritual during a Hindu wedding as they sanctify the union and provide social recognition of the wedding.
A marriage ceremony is believed to be complete only after the couple takes seven rounds around a holy fire. In every round, the couple seeks almighty’s blessings and recites a vow which depicts a promise made to each other. The groom leads the bride, who follows him around the holy fire.
Every vow in each of the seven steps is significant and is considered as unbreakable as it made in the presence of the lord of fire. Understanding its true meaning and abiding by it can do wonders to make a marriage last forever. It is undeniably the ultimate secret of success of a happy married life.
A couple that enters into wedlock are companions for a lifetime who stay together through the thick and thin. With these 7 beautiful steps and their respective vows, every couple gracefully agrees to a lifelong commitment of mutual love, care, and respect.
The pure promises must be taken with a pure heart filled with genuine intentions. These centuries-old rituals are extremely reasonable even in today’s world to guide a couple. If followed with utmost honesty, sincerity, and dedication, these 7 steps are all that is needed for blissful married life.