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Saptapadi (Sanskrit: सप्तपदी, saptapadī, pronounced /ˌsəptəˈpəðiː/ lit. seven steps; Hindi: सात फेरे, sāt phéré, lit. seven circumambulations) is an important rite (Sanskrit, Hindi: rītī) of a Hindu marriage ceremony. In the seven steps, the bride and groom circumambulate a consecrated fire seven times, reciting specific vows with each circuit (Sanskrit: parikrama). Vows made in the presence of the sacred fire (Sanskrit: agni) are considered unbreakable, with Agnideva (lit. God/Lord of Fire; c.f. Latin cognates: ignis+deus) held as both witnessing and blessing the couple's union.

The vows taken in each phera are as below:

  1. With the first phera, the couple invokes the Gods for the plentitude of pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.
  2. With the second phera the couple prays for physical and mental strength and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
  3. The third phera is taken for the fulfilment of spiritual obligations. The Gods are invoked for blessing the couple with spiritual strength.
  4. The fourth phera is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony through mutual love and trust and a long joyous life together.
  5. The fifth phera is taken to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire universe and for begetting noble children.
  6. The sixth phera is for bountiful seasons all over the world. The couple prays for bountiful seasons and seeks that they may go through these seasons together, just as they would share their joys and sorrows.
  7. With the last phera they pray for a life of understanding, loyalty, unity and companionship not only for themselves but also for the peace of the Universe.

Having exchanged these vows of love, duty, respect, fidelity and a fruitful union the couple agree to be companions forever. The process of saat phere acquires more significance in that the couple prays for the peace and well being of the entire universe.

In South Indian weddings, after each saying a mantra at each of the seven steps, the couple say these words together:

"Now let us make a vow together. We shall share love, share the same food, share our strengths, share the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together. I shall be the Samaveda, you the Rigveda, I shall be the Upper World, you the Earth; I shall be the Sukhilam, you the Holder - together we shall live and beget children, and other riches; come thou, O sweet-worded girl!"[1][2][3][4][5]

In North Indian weddings, the bride and the groom say the following words after completing the seven steps:

"We have taken the Seven Steps. You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours. Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me. Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, united. You are thought and I am sound. May the night be honey-sweet for us. May the morning be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us. May the heavens be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the sun be all honey for us. May the cows yield us honey-sweet milk. As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable, as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable, so may our unions be permanently settled."[6][7][8][9]

References

  1. www.panchangam.com
  2. South Indian Wedding, SanathanaDharma.com, http://www.sanathanadharma.com/articles/wedding.htm, retrieved 2009-05-21, "... The Ritual of the Hindu Wedding too is each symbolic ..." 
  3. Sapthapathi Manthras - Its meaning, bnaiyer.com, http://www.bnaiyer.com/companion/paths-13.html, retrieved 2009-05-21, "... they both say: "Now let us make a vow together. We shall share the same food, share the strengths ..." 
  4. www.sophieanand.com
  5. A South Indian Wedding – The Rituals and the Rationale: The Vedic Ceremony of the Tamil Shaivite Brahmin community, SAWNET, http://www.sawnet.org/weddings/tamil_vedic.html, retrieved 2009-05-21, "... The gates of the wedding hall are adorned with full-grown plantain trees, signifying evergreen plenty for endless generations ..." 
  6. Diane Warner (2006), Diane Warner's Complete Book of Wedding Vows: Hundreds of Ways to Say "I Do", Career Press, ISBN 1564148165, http://books.google.com/books?id=hdnNZ3U6iG8C, "... We have taken the Seven Steps. You have become mine ..." 
  7. Sitaram Sehgal (1969), Hindu marriage and its immortal traditions, Navyug Publications, http://books.google.com/books?id=MwUYAAAAIAAJ, "... May the plants be honey-sweet for us; may the Sun be all honey for us and ..." 
  8. Eleanor C. Munro (1996), Wedding readings: centuries of writing and rituals on love and marriage, Penguin Books, ISBN 0140088792, http://books.google.com/books?id=OiALO4j3LpkC, "... May the nights be honey-sweet for us; may the mornings be honey-sweet ..." 
  9. Michael Macfarlane (1999), Wedding Vows: Finding the Perfect Words, Sterling Publishing Company, ISBN 0806906391, http://books.google.com/books?id=W987VY-4h3IC, "... we are word and meaning, united ..." 

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