Hindu wedding customs are some of the most elaborate ones among all the cultures of the world. These customs besides being very ancient have continued as is through hundreds of generations in the Indian sub-continent and are still cherished as the fundamental components of the wedding. The reason for this adherence even in the current cosmopolitan society is the sense of authenticity that is secured for the marriage through these customs. There are high ideals and values attached with these customs and the bride and groom tying the knot almost adore these values for life; thus allowing for a sturdy foundation for ever. Among the main rituals of a Brahmin marriage are the kanyadaan, panigrahana and the saptapadi.
The 7 steps -
The kanyadaan is the formal offering of the daughter by the father to the groom while saptapadi ceremony relates to the 7 sacred steps (pads) or the rounds that are taken to symbolize 7 different vows toward the future marital life. Let us see what are these vows and how are these solemnized through the Vedic mantras of relevance.
The saptapadi or the seven rounds could be called as the objective part of the wedding ceremony where the bride and groom accept the broader responsibilities and obligations towards the well-being of each other. These seven rounds are taken around the holy fire that occupies its position as a heavenly witness to the vows by the bride and groom; while the wedding priest chants the Vedic hymns to offer the pious authentication. The seven vows that the bride and groom take are as follows –
The groom proposes his bride that she will make good food through whatever good earnings he will make; that she would cook food to nourish him and the family. The bride reaffirms the vow with her consent.
The groom proposes that his wife would skillfully manage the home in a healthy manner to as to ensure the wellbeing of character, body and family. The bride responds with affirmation to keep this promise for ever.
The groom makes the vow that he would engage in earning his livelihood through the good and fair means and would allow her to manage his resources. The bride offers to help her husband in managing his livelihood and resources in the best spirits.
Groom makes the vow that he would trust her decisions in matters of household and would participate with her in all forms. The bride responds through her vow to make a good home.
The groom makes the vow that he would consult her in matters pertaining to the management and upkeep of the cattle and farms. The bride promises to help in good management.
The groom takes the vow that he would love only her and have offspring with her. The lady responds that she would present her in all means to complete him and fulfill his desires.
The groom accepts the bride as her eternal wife and the bride responds that she would keep all the vows full and high for ever.