As saying goes Marriages are made in Heaven, but celebrated on earth, Hindu wedding ceremony is indeed an elaborate celebration, consists of many different rituals, rites, traditions, and grand ceremonies, that stretch for days prior and after the actual date of the marriage. But now it has come down to religious ceremony before wedding, on the wedding day it is one hour to an hour and a half long ceremony, depending on your family culture and tradition, to find out more you will need to sit and have a consultation with Hindu priest, These ceremonies establish different rules that will govern the newly married couple as they begin their journey as husband and wife. the central theme of these rituals and customs help the establishment of the true relationship between a man and a woman, which culminates in conveying the actual essence of married life.
One of the important and integral parts of the Hindu wedding ceremony is Saptapadi (seven steps or seven vows). The rituals convey the values which should be followed after marriage to lead to a happy married life. The ritual of Saptapadi symbolizes the journey of life, which the couple should travel together hand in hand. They should be with each other through thick and thin. The husband accepts his wife as a good fortune and good omen to start their life together. The groom vows to take care, consult, and protect his bride at all times. the priest chants mantras that include accepting the responsibilities of loyalty, love, mutual respect, understanding, and procreation for as long as they live. The significance of seven steps lies in the fact that according to Hindu belief if two people walk seven steps together then they remain together for life long. The significance of vows taken in each of the seven steps is of paramount importance and highly relevant for a successful married life of the couple.
On taking these seven steps together and having exchanged these vows the couple agrees to be companions forever and pray that they never have any conflicts so as to break this companionship. Having sought each other out to be life partners, they agree to lead a harmonious life taking into consideration not only each other’s likes and dislikes but also keeping in mind the good of the entire family. They pray for their unity, prosperity, and happiness.
According to Hindu law codes [ Smrithi], completion of the seventh step is the moment of completion of marriage for all legal purposes The ideals behind the Saptapadi acquire more significance from the fact that the married couple prays not only for their own welfare, but also for the health and prosperity of all living beings and the entire Universe Saptapadi is an integral part of all Hindu marriages, irrespective of the tradition or custom they are followed. However, the manners in which these seven steps are taken differ from place to place.
- om ekamiñe viñëustvä nayatu
With the promise to nourish each other we take this first step together
- om dve urjje viñëustvä nayatu
with determination to grow together in physical, mental, and spritual strength we take this second step together
- om tréëi räyaspoñäya viñëus tvä nayatu
with promise to preserve our wealth and prosperity we take this third step together
- om catväri mayo bhaväya viñëus tvä nayatu
vow to serve each other with happiness and harmony we take this fourth step together
- om païcama prajäbhyo viñëus tvä nayatu
with promise to care for our healthy and long lived children we take this fifth step together
- om ñaòa åtubhyo viñëus tvä nayatu
With the vow to be together forever in all responsibilities we take this sixth step together
- om sakhe sapta padä bhava sämäm anubratä bhava viñëu stvä nayatu
With the promise of everlasting friendship and future companionship, we take this seventh step together
Every couple should not only chant the vows but also must strongly believe in them and try to follow the assurances and promises made verbatim in their married life. It is only then they will witness love, affection, trust, and prosperity growing among themselves in leaps and bounds. In present-day circumstances, where one often finds that love, trust, and patience is gradually fading away between the married couples, the vows taken during Saptapadi will help them to remain steady and eliminate any shreds of misunderstanding or differences that grow among couples.