The ‘seven vows’ or the ‘saat pheras’ around the pious fire is one of the most prominent and integral rituals of Hindu marriages. Each vow has great mythological importance and with each vow, the couple makes a commitment which is to be fulfilled and which is unbreakable. No Hindu marriage is complete without the completion of these sacred seven vows wherein each vow holds a specific meaning.
So, what do these vows signify? Or what do they mean? The seven vows are even called ‘shaptapadi’ or the seven steps where the groom promises of Karma, Artha and Dharma. These seven vows are supposed to anchor the couple through the tumultuous journey in married life as husband and wife.
First vow – In the first vow, the couple prays together to the almighty for nourishment and for living a life with respect and honor. The groom takes an oath to provide welfare and happiness to the wife and children. The bride pledges to shoulder all the responsibilities of the groom’s entire family.
Second vow – The groom requests the bride to be his strength so that he can get the courage to protect the family and provide security. The bride abides while also requesting for undivided attention, eternal love and companionship.
Third vow – The third vow is taken by the couple together for wisdom, prosperity and wealth, so that they can live a contented and a satisfied life together. They also pledge to remain spiritually committed. The bride assures the groom that by virtue of true love and devotion she will remain a chaste wife forever.
Fourth vow – The fourth vow is taken for the attainment of happiness and harmony. The groom thanks the bride for bringing happiness, auspiciousness and sacredness in his life. The bride pledges to serve and please her husband in every possible way. Together, they pledge to strengthen and maintain the family relationship by taking care of the elders in the family and respecting them.
Fifth vow – The importance of the fifth vow is to pray for the welfare of all the living things in the Universe and for courageous, kind and good-looking children. The couple also prays to the almighty to shower blessings, so that they can be responsible parents and provide the children with education, and teach them the fundamentals values of life.
Sixth vow – In the sixth vow, the couple prays to the almighty for bountiful seasons and longer life of togetherness. The groom wishes that his wife lights up his life with joy and happiness, while the bride assures of participation in each of his noble and divine acts.
Seventh vow – This is the last vow and completes the marriage ceremony. Here, the couple prays for a life of togetherness and a long-lasting relationship interspersed with understanding and loyalty. They take an oath to nourish their beautiful relationship with love and honesty and to be together with each other, not only in this life, but all the lives to come.
Even though different religions and cultures have their own unique set of vows, the meaning of the vows is more or less the same – the vows are exchanges for promises of love, duty and respect. The sacred vows are taken to assure the partner that he/she is worthy of love and to remain together forever “till death do you part.”