The 7 Steps in a Hindu or Indian wedding is also recognized as 7 pheras (rounds) or 7 promises of marriage in Hindi or SAPTAPADI in Sanksrit, and they are conducted along with the Mangal pheras, which is to walk around the holy flame.
How it starts
Every Hindu marriage is completed only once these vows and pheras have been taken with entire integrity. The bride and the groom sit under a Mandap in front of this sacred fire and a priest and their parents to perform the rituals on their wedding day. The holy fire is lit with the traditional pooja performed by the Pandits or the priest. Then the grooms Uttariya and the corner of the Brides saree is tied together into a knot by the priest. And are then asked to stand up and take the pheras or rounds around the sacred fire holding their hands and promising each of the seven vows to each other. These seven vows are the seven different stages of the Hindu wedding. You must be wondering that what does each of the vows mean? And why is it taken?
You must have listened to the term ’Saat Phere’ quite often in the Hindu custom and to understand the meaning you need to know the language. When translated into English the Saat Phere mean ’Seven Circumambulations’ so to make reading and understanding a little simpler let’s refer to it as Saat Phere in this text. So the Saat Phere is practically the seven vows that unite the bride and her groom to be husband and wife and every vow is taken has its own vital significance.
The marriage ceremony begins with the brides family greeting the grooms family. Then a prayer is said unto Lord Ganesh to bless the happening and to eliminate any barriers from the ritual. Then the Bride meets the groom and they exchange the garlands, which reflects their approval for the marriage ceremony to commence. Even though this ceremony was founded on the belief that the bride and groom must not see each other before the wedding now it is just looked upon as a function of the welcoming ritual as the pair have already approved the proposal and they also do already know one another. The brides’ mother pours in water into the hands of the grooms’ father which further flows in the grooms and later in the brides which symbolize enduring life and the passing on the family heritage to the generations to come.
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The Saat Phere is the most significant ritual of the Hindu marriage and is mainly that the bride and her groom walk around the sacred fire holding hands and the two light the flame and pray and wish for a happy fortune by using the fire as a medium to carry on their prayers to their Hindu God. Every phera possesses a varied promise which is read out by the priest conducting the wedding. After the declaration of these Seven Vows, the couple becomes husband and wife.
You must be now thinking what is the importance of the pheras and which seven promises does the groom make to his bride while taking the pheras?
The Hindus believe that a couple is united by God in heaven and once there are one they have been tied to be each other for Seven Lives ( Saat Janam). The seven promises the bride and groom take are the seven vows to lead a happy and successful married life. They are bound by a spiritual bond. In short, these seven vows are said to be the core of an excellent relationship that is to be lived by the bride and groom in future.
The 7 Vows are as follows:
1. The First Vow / Phera
He groom declares ’om esha ekapadi bhava iti prathaman’ which means that he will provide his wife and their children with the food, nourishment, happiness and welfare required for their living. They promise each other to take the first step to dwell with respect and affection in Gods presence. They pray to the Hindu deities to provide them with all their food and well-being needs throughout their life. And to respectfully fulfil their roles for one another.
2. The Second Vow / Phera
The groom declares ’om oorje jara dastayaha’ which means that in unity will they insure their household and kids.
They promise to be happy and walk together in love and strength. The vow to grow mentally, physically and spiritually so that they relish their joy and happiness in marriage.
3. The Third Vow / Phera
He groom declares ’om rayas santu joradastayaha’ which means that they may grow together to be wealthy and to prosper. They vow to share both their pain as well as joy together. Here they promise to live and earn to maintain a comfortable lifestyle for them and their children to live in.
4. The Fourth Vow / Phera
The groom declares ’om mayo bhavyas jaradastaya ha’ which means to be blessed with good and loyal children.
And also not to forget their parents and take care of them so that they be blessed in life and to maintain their family relations and responsibilities as well.
5. The Fifth Vow / Phera
He groom declares ’om prajabhyaha santu jaradastayaha’ which means that his bride is his best and most loyal friend and his lucky charm. They also promise each other that they have come into their lives to enrich and flourish it with happiness and joy.
Here they also pray for healthy children and promise to keep them well educated and provide with all their needs throughout their life.
6. The Sixth Vow / Phera
The groom asks his bride ’Rutubhyah shat padi bhava’ which means that will she continually fill his heart with the immense happiness and joy that she has filled in it while taking the oheras till now. They promise to live in peace. Also, they pray to God for a healthy and balanced life with each other to the very end.
7. The Seventh Vow / Phera
The last and special Phera where the groom says ’Om sakhi jaradastayahga’ which means that they are now declared as husband and wife and have become united. And he will be hers and she will be his till eternity. They also promise to be friends and walk with each other and support one another in every part of their life.
The last step the two promise each other to live in love, friendship and trust. These Seven Vows make the wedding eternal and fulfil it to be an eternal bond in front of God.
Additional Bride Promise
Also, there are some interpretations of the promises where the brides part is to be a homemaker and that she must take care of her groom and kids and the husband is to be the bread earner. Nevertheless, in this current age, it becomes difficult for some to take such vows as the custom of the husband being the provider is not the only case and the wives look forward to earning and share in the support through finance too, hence the vows are stated according to the modern age and not being biased towards any gender.
One must know what he/she is promising to their better half before taking then in front of the sacred fire. It is always good to be known to what you are confessing from your mouth before taking on them just as said as knowing the meaning always adds a lot of significance to the bond. As when you know what you have promised it is easier to follow and fulfil it in your married life to live happy and blessed in the future.