A wedding is a sacred ceremony of the coming together of two individuals and thus, marks the entry into the householder stage of life. The sacrament of marriage strikes upon a person that the life on earth should be consciously and fully accepted and elevated to the next level of spiritual experience, growth, and conquest of ego and self. It is the union between a man and woman who choose to love each other unconditionally, live creatively, and grow peacefully in a loving and lasting partnership as they move through the stages of life.
Saptapadi is an important ritual of the Jain wedding ceremony. In this ritual, the couple takes seven vows around the Agni as Vedic Mantras are recited by the priest. Thus, in the presence of auspicious beings, sacred vows of marriage are exchanged to signify the harmonious merging of two souls within two bodies.
According to Indian philosophy in South Asia, that two individuals become lifelong friends when they walk seven steps together in marriage. The bride and the groom take seven steps together, and with each step they accept the vows recited by the priest. Moreover, in the seven steps, the bride and the groom circumambulate a sacred fire seven times, reciting specific vows with each parikrama. Vows made in the presence of the agni are considered unbreakable, with the Agnideva held as both witnessing and blessing the couple’s union in marriage.
Although Saptapadi is an ancient ritual, even the young generation of today follow it, knowing the importance of it. As always, traditionally they believe that a marriage cannot be complete without the seven sacred steps in the matrimonial ceremony.
In the Saptapadi, the couple vows to always remain together in happiness and sorrow; embrace each other’s families as their own; remain life partners and serve each other with happiness and love; assist each other in all circumstances; share their minds, hearts, and spirits; strive to grow their love, spiritual and philosophical quests; and finally, agree to a life of equal rights and perform their duties with mutual cooperation and respect. At the end of each step, the bride’s open palms are filled to overflow with puffed rice by her brother, signifying abundance of wealth and prosperity.
Furthermore, after taking the first seven steps as life partners, the couple also vows to be friends and partners forever; have a joint purpose and determination; love each other and shine together; grow together when possible and understand the other’s growth when separate from their own; not stray from the path of their love, devotion, commitment, and friendship with each other; and to be complimentary and peaceful in their thoughts, speech, actions, and feelings. With the completion of the vows, the couple is pronounced as officially married.
- Saptapadi is a Sankrit word meaning seven steps.
- Parikrama is a Sanskrit word for circuit.
- Agni is the sacred fire.
- Agnideva is the God of Fire.
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