Saptapadi or Seven steps in Hindu marriage!
Saptapadi or seven steps is the most important rite of a Hindu marriage ceremony. The word Saptapadi means “Seven steps”. After tying the Mangalsutra, the newly wed couple take seven steps around the holy fire, that is called Saptapadi.
In a Hindu marriage , the most Important rite is the tying of the Thali or Mangalsutra, by the groom around the neck of the bride, but the marriage is incomplete without the ‘Saptapadi’ or ‘Seven steps’!
- With the first step , the couple invokes the Gods for plentitude of food.
- With the second step , the couple prays to the Gods to give them both mental and physical strength and a healthy life free from ailments.
- The third step is for the fulfilment of spiritual obligation for the couple and for the successful performance of their spiritual duties.
- The fourth step is for the attainment of happiness in all walks of life.
- The fifth step is to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire Universe.
- The sixth step is for bountiful seasons all over the world.
The seventh step is taken invoking the prayer and sacrifice for universal peace.
The variations in Sapdapadi or Seven steps: During Saptapadi or seven steps, some communities, the groom holds only the little finger , while taking his bride round the fire seven times, in gentle steps, in still others, he holds her right hand cupped fingers all together. The most sacred and critical Seven Steps.
Husband and wife only after the Sapdapadi: The man and woman who tie the knot, are declared husband and wife, only on completion of the ‘Saptapadi’ or ‘Seven steps’.
The sentimental and deep values of Sapdapadi in Hindu marriage: When a wedded couple takes the seven steps or rounds holding each other’s hands firmly, around the fire, they not only evoke the Almighty’s blessings and pray for each other ‘s health and well-being, they pray for their families, and the whole Universe. The ritual embraces all the elements of nature, fire, water and seasons, spirituality and universal peace.
The Implied elements of true partnership in ‘Saptapadi’: The couple during Sapdapadi, agrees to be with each other in times of pain and pleasure respect each other’s likes and dislikes, family values. The partners agree to be perfect companions through all walks of life.
The Saath pheras or seven steps in the North: The North Indian weddings have a similar , very Important ritual where the couple goes around the fire seven times, called ‘Saath Pheras’ Or ‘Seven rounds’ where they pledge to be with each other in all times of pleasure and difficulties, not quarrel and part ways, also pray for their families. The difference in the North Indian customs is that the ‘Dupatta’ or the bride’s head cover, is tied to the Dupatta of the groom and they walk in close proximity around the Agni or fire. The priest or pundit chants very effective mantras as they go round the fire.
Saptapadi followed by Metti or toe-ring slipping: This most important rite of a Hindu marriage is followed by the groom bending down, lifting his wife’s feet one by one, and slipping the silver toe-ring (another symbol of marriage), into her second toe of each feet.
The essence remains the same in Saat Pheras and Saptapadi: Whatever be the differences in rituals between a North Indian Hindu wedding and a South Indian Hindu wedding the essence of ‘Saat Pheras’ and ‘Sapdapadi or Seven steps’ is one and the same evoking blessings for the well -being of the couple, their families and the whole Universe.