In India, it is believed that traditions, rituals and customs make for a happy married life. At a Hindu wedding, seven vows or saat pheras are taken by the bride and groom around the sacred fire. The holy fire in the havan kund is the witness of the vows between the couple. During the pheras, a Hindu pandit or priest chants mantras and vows and make the couple pledge their commitment to stay together and support each other for life.
Vows form a major part of a wedding. The words are chanted by the priest on behalf of the couple as an expression of their future intentions and their promises to uphold their married life.
Here are the seven vows and their meanings.
Vow 1 – Groom -“om esha ekapadi bhava iti prathaman”! This means ‘You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children’.
Bride’s reply – “dhanam dhanyam pade vadet”! ‘I am responsible for the home and all household, food and finance responsibilities’.
Vow 2 – Groom – “om oorje jara dastayaha“, meaning ‘Together we will protect our house and children’.
Bride – “kutumburn rakshayishyammi sa aravindharam”, meaning ‘I will be by your side as your courage and strength. I will rejoice in your happiness. In return, you will love me solely’.
Vow 3 – Groom – “om rayas santu joradastayaha” which means ‘May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children and may our children live long.’
Bride – “tava bhakti as vadedvachacha”, ‘‘I will love you solely for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste’.
Vow 4 – Groom – “om mayo bhavyas jaradastaya ha”, ‘You have brought sacredness into my life, and have completed me. May we be blessed with noble and obedient children’.
Bride – “lalayami cha pade vadet”, ‘I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can’.
Vow 5 – Groom – “om prajabhyaha santu jaradastayaha” that means ‘‘You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it. God bless you’.
Bride – “arte arba sapade vadet” that means ‘‘I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honor you, and will strive to fulfill all your wishes’.
Vow 6 – Groom asks – “Rutubhyah shat padi bhava” meaning ‘‘Now that you have taken six steps with me, you have filled my heart with immense happiness. Will you do the kindness of filling my heart with happiness like this for all times?’
Bride – “yajna hom shashthe vacho vadet”, ‘I will always be by your side’.
Vow 7 – Groom finally says – “Om sakhi jaradastayahga”, ‘‘We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity.’
Bride – “Attramshe sakshino vadet pade”, ‘As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honor and cherish each other forever.’