A Hindu marriage is a sacred and elaborate ceremony involving many significant rituals and rites which often extend over several days. The most important ones are the seven vows of Hindu marriage which are performed on the day of the marriage itself. These vows of a Hindu are also known as ‘pheras’ or Saptha Padhi and they contain all the elements and practice of marriage. They consist of promises which the bride and groom make to each other in the presence of a priest while circling around a sacred flame in honour of the fire god ‘Agni’. These traditional Hindu vows form an unseen bond between the couple as they speak the promising words for a happy and prosperous life together.
A summary of the seven steps or vows in Indian marriages would be as follows:
- The couple invokes the gods for provisions for their household, for pure and nourishing food and a life that is noble and respectful.
- The couple prays for physical and mental strength, for spiritual powers and to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
- To increase their wealth by righteous means and proper use, and for the fulfilment of spiritual obligations.
- To acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony by mutual love and trust and a long joyous life together.
- To be blessed with strong, virtuous and heroic children.
- For bountiful seasons all over the world, and for self-restraint and longevity.
- To be true companions and remain lifelong partners with understanding, loyalty and unity, not only for themselves but also for the peace of the universe.
These seven vows of a Hindu wedding encapsulate marriage as a symbol of purity and the union of two separate people as well as their community and culture. The couple exchange vows of love, duty, respect, faithfulness, and a fruitful union where they agree to be companions forever. All Hindu wedding vows have a similar themes and rituals; however there can be some slight variations in the manner in which they are carried out and presented. Overall, the marriage vows in Hindu wedding ceremonies carry great significance and sacredness in the sense that the couple prays for the peace and well being of the entire universe.