Every time the wedding topic comes up, you hear people talking about the “shaadi ke phere” or the 7 vows of marriage that a couple takes during the wedding ceremony. You can be late to any other ceremony or event, but these “shaadi ke phere” or the seven pheras can never be delayed. This is because these seven rounds around the fire have to be taken at a particularly auspicious time determined by the pandit, commonly known as a ‘muhrat’.
One has often noted a couple takes these seven pheras in Hindu marriage as they walk around in circles. One may even say, that it’s the pheras that actually turn the relationship into a final marriage. We witness these pheras quite often in movies and at weddings. But have you ever wondered what the seven promises or the 7 vachan of Hindu marriage are when they take those seven steps around the fire?
The saat pheras or the seven vows of a Hindu marriage are still as sacred and as auspicious as they were thousands of years ago. No matter what, if it’s any type of Hindu Marriage, the seven pheras or saat phere around the sacred and pious Agni is common across all of them. This is the marriage oath that the couple takes to bond their marriage physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Indian weddings are growing larger in scale over the years. In old times, there used to be a simple ceremony followed by a simple meal provided to the villagers. Now, things have become a lot different. Indians prefer to organize huge destination weddings with over 8 different events like haldi, Mehendi, sangeet, engagement, wedding, reception, and what not — the list just does not end. But then, what are the 7 vows of marriage exactly? Here’s a simple explanation for the same.
What Are The 7 Vows Of Marriage?
No matter the number of events, the root of a holy matrimony always stays in the Seven Pheras, where the bride and the groom make 7 vows of marriage to each other in every phera for every aspect of life such as sorting out finances, having good health, maintaining well-being and the good fortune of being able to create progeny. These seven pheras are called Saptapadi, taken around the holy fire called ‘agni‘.
In this traditional ceremony, a priest chants the old Hindu scriptures in Sanksrit. The vows are taken in front of the fire, where Lord Agni is said to reside. The blessings of God Agni is considered to strengthen the bond between the couple. Certain cultures like the Punjabi culture has only four pheras, but every culture holds a lot of significance to these vows and the couple can officially commence their beautiful journey after the Pheras.
All the family members are especially invited to this ceremony to bless the couple for the beautiful journey they are about to embark upon.
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The Meaning Of Seven Pheras Of Hindu Marriage
It is evident that the Seven Pheras are very important in a Hindu marriage and the marriage remains incomplete without the pheras. What are pheras? The seven rounds that the couple takes around the fire are called pheras and have immense significance in a marriage because of each vow taken during each round, you can call them the seven promises of marriage.
So what are the seven pheras and their meanings specifically? What promises exactly are the bride and groom making to each other? We have a breakdown of that for you. Let us move on to the meanings of each phera in the saat phere.
If you are wondering about the meanings of shaadi ke 7 vachan, here they are:
1. The First Vow: A prayer for nourishment
In the first vow of the seven promises of marriage, the couple takes the steps around the holy fire with the bride staying in the lead. So yes, seven pheras in Hindu marriage begin with the bride taking charge. In the first round, the groom promises to always take care of his wife and future children by providing them with happiness, respectable life, and good food to eat.
The bride, in turn, promises the groom that she will share the burden of the groom’s responsibilities and will forever look after the health and welfare of the groom and the family she is going to be a part of. Simple and heartfelt. She promises to be a good wife to him in every way that she can.
2. The Second Vow: A prayer for strength during bad times and sickness
Of the 7 vows of marriage, this is one that is very similar to what we hear in Christian weddings. The meaning of second vachan is one of the most beautiful amongst the 7 vachans of marriage, as it sends out a prayer to the Lord Agni for the well-being and nourishment of the couple in all aspects including physical, mental, and spiritual. Here, the groom requests the bride to stand with him through thick and thin, in all his ups and downs, and always share his duty to protect the family. The bride, in turn, asks for everlasting love and all the attention of the groom as she promises to always be his strength, in good and bad times both.
3. The Third Vow: A prayer for prosperity
Each vow in a Hindu wedding holds great significance and meaning for the couple. So now, here comes the third one. The third vow of the Seven Pheras of Hindu marriage sends a prayer out to the Almighty for a life full of prosperity and wealth to live a happy, satisfying life. In this phera, the bride and the groom reassure each other to be forever loyal to each other and always maintain the sanctity of the marriage.
Not only do they request the lord for bountinful mercy in terms of material things and happiness, the couple also prays for prosperity also in terms of emotional well being, emotional connection and happiness as a couple. They ask God to bless them with a happy and prosperous married life.
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4. The Fourth Vow: A prayer for unity in families
When discussing the significance of seven vows taken during a Hindu marriage, the fourth one stands quite important as it imparts a more familial meaning, something that is very close to and important for Indians in general. Without family, there is no such thing as a marriage. So in these 7 vows of marriage, the couple must make a vow to unite their families together as well for an everlasting bond.
An Indian marriage is not only the marriage of two people, but it is also a marriage of two families. This Shaadi ka phera primarily goes to the family of the couple. The groom is thankful to the bride to bring him the happiness he has been longing for and looking for his whole life. She also brings sacredness into his life which he thanks her for. On the other hand, the bride promises to always keep the groom happy in the best that she possibly can. They also promise to take care of the elders in the family and treat them with a lot of love and respect. Basically, they are vowing to unite family values, love, mutual respect, and understanding between the two families that are about to be united for eternity.
5. The Fifth Vow: A prayer for noble offspring
What are the 7 vows of marriage without a mention and prayer for having offspring? Children, especially in the olden times, were considered a big part of marriage. Even though things may be changing now significantly and people are deciding to go childfree by choice as well, Indian tradition is very rooted in the past and thus still thinks of children as a big part of marriage.
Thus, that’s where the fifth vow comes in out of the 7 vows of marriage that a couple makes in a Hindu wedding. Also, it is now the groom’s turn to take over. From the fifth phera, the groom takes the lead while taking the steps around the holy fire as the bride follows. Since marriage is considered incomplete without a child, in this vow, the couple prays to the Almighty for blessings to complete their family and conceive noble offspring. It is a request or plea to the Lord to bless them with a healthy and strong child with good values. They also pledge to be good parents and bring up their children by themselves, without relying on others. To some it may seem old-school and traditional now, but it is still beautiful.
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6. The Sixth Vow: A prayer for good health
Each vow in a Hindu wedding focuses on important and necessary aspects of the couple’s married life. Health is a very important one of them that absolutely cannot be left out. How can one have a happy married life without good health? On the 6th of the 7 vachans of Hindu marriage, the couple prays to the Lord Almighty and seeks His blessings for a disease-free and healthy life.
In this vachan, the groom wishes for the bride to fill his life with happiness and peacefulness so they can both be happy, hearty, and most importantly, healthy together. The bride also promises to do the same, while also making the vachan of always being beside him in health and in sickness, in all his acts.
7. The Seventh Vow: A prayer for everlasting love and friendship
In the final phera where the couple makes the final promise out of the 7 vows of marriage, the couple prays for a long relationship thriving on love, loyalty, and understanding. They promise to always be with each other and be there for each other for not just this birth, but several other births to come. In the last vow in the सात वचन, the couple promises strong companionship and a stronger bond as their marriage grows, as opposed to drifting apart over time.
The final vow unites the couple with togetherness and their soul is considered to become one. “Do jism, ek jaan”, as we have heard very often. They promise to abide by all the vows made with complete honesty and begin their journey as husband and wife till eternity.
Just like every other ritual in the Hindu wedding, these Pheras, the 7 vows of marriage also hold significant importance in the spiritual bonding of the bride and the groom. What are the 7 vows of marriage? They are a means for the couple to seal their bond. A permanent loyalty is promised to each other and it gives the couple an assurance that they would always have each other to fall back on, no matter what the circumstances may be. The seven vows act as a confirmation of the love and care that the husband and wife are going to receive from each other through the births.
It’s interesting, the things that tradition is able to teach us. Tradition has always seemed to guide Indian society and even with marriages, it has taught us the 7 most important promises that one should make in love and in a marriage.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Do let us know what you think in the comments!