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Decoding the Saat Phere: The complete guide to the sacred vows of Hindu marriage

The world loves the Big Fat Indian wedding for its inimitable grandeur, colorful couture, delectable cuisines, and non-stop revelries spread across days and sometimes weeks. However, what makes Indian weddings truly special and unique are the intricate, underlying traditions and heritage that bind not just our marriages but also our lives and society as a whole. At the very center of Hindu nuptial customs lie the seven basic tenets of married life, or the “Saat Phere”.

Saath Phere
Photo courtesy: Tuhina Chopra

What are the ‘Saat Phere’?
The Saat Phere marks the seven sacred vows of marriage that the bride and groom make to validate their commitment to each other, binding them in a lifelong marriage. While the custom of taking seven circles around the fire while reading out the seven vows is specific to a few cultures, all Hindu cultures around the country follow some variation of the concept. Today, as modern relationships evolve constantly to adapt to changing dynamics between couples, many age-old rituals have felt the winds of change, with couples finding ways to mold them to their unique lives while still maintaining a link to tradition.

Celebrating the essence of the Indian wedding rooted in traditions, we explore the meaning and significance of the Saat Phere, and how they can be embraced in modern marriages.
First Phera – Nourishment
Groom: “Om Esha Ekapadi Bhava iti Prathaman”
Bride: “Dhanam Dhanyam Pade Vadet”

What it signifies:
The first phera signifies a promise of nourishment, prosperity, and happiness. The groom promises to provide his bride with happiness and food and take care of her nourishment. The bride in turn promises to look after him and his family and pledges to share his responsibility in looking after their home, food, and finances.

What it should mean today:
A promise to share the responsibility of home, food, and finances between two equal partners! The couple promise to make sure they not only take care of physical health and nourishment but also take care of each other’s mental and emotional health and give each other the support they may need.
Second Phera – Strength
Groom: “Om Oorje Jara Dastayaha”
Bride: “Kutumburn Rakshayishyammi sa Aravindharam”

What it signifies:
The bride and groom invoke God’s blessing, asking for physical and mental strength to lead a blissful life. The groom seeks strength from the god to protect their house and children. The bride promises to be by his side and be the source of his courage and strength through life. She asks for lifelong devotion and loyalty and promises to support him in every endeavor.

What it should mean today:
Pray for mental and physical strength to face life’s challenges, support each other through the ups and downs of life, be capable of nurturing and protecting their family and kids together, and pull their partner up when they fall down.
Third Phera – Wealth and Prosperity
Groom: “Om Rayas Santu Joraa Dastayaha”
Bride: “Tava Bhakti as Vadedvachacha”

What it signifies:
The third phera invokes wealth and prosperity. The groom vows to work hard to accumulate wealth and provide his family with a good life as well as education for their children. The bride promises to be faithful and devoted to her husband for life.

What it should mean today:
To strive to build a successful life side by side, and promise to support each other’s dreams and aspirations, no matter what they may be. To also never let ego and jealousy get in the way of your partner’s ambition, and to share in each other’s success and joy.
Fourth Phera – Family
Groom: “Om Mayo Bhavyas Jaradastaya ha”
Bride: Lalayami Cha Pade Vadet”

What it signifies:
The fourth phera is a promise of love, respect, and harmony as they build a family together, as well as become a part of each other’s families. The groom expresses gratitude to his bride for bringing happiness and beauty into his life and prays for loving children and a blissful family life. The bride promises to shower him with joy and happiness, and to stick by him through thick and thin.

What it should mean today:
A promise to celebrate every high, and be a shoulder to lean on through every low, and to face every challenge in life together to find your way through. To also love and respect each other’s family and make them your own.
Fifth Phera – Progeny
Groom: “Om Prajabhayaha Santu Jaradastayaha”
Bride: Arte Arba Sapade Vadet”

What it signifies:
The groom leads the fifth vow as they pray for healthy and noble children. They promise to be good parents to their children, raise them well and provide them with all necessities.

What it should mean today:
A promise to not just love and provide for your children if you chose to have them but also raise them to be kind, independent, and capable of building their own lives and identities. To also promise to support their dreams, and accept them for who they are.
Sixth Phera – Health and Happiness
Groom: “Rutubhyah Shat Padi Bhava”
Bride: Yajna Hom Shashthe Vacho Vadet”

What it signifies:
The sixth phera is a prayer for health and happiness to bind their marriage, as they vow to stand together through all the joys and sorrows of life. The groom asks the bride to fill his life with joy by being by his side for the rest of their lives. The bride promises to stand by him and keep him happy.

What it should mean today:
To accept that life will show them rainy days, and that sickness, failure, and despair are part of life. To strive to not let that defeat your spirits and be each other’s pillar of strength in times of need, and help each other get back on their feet.
Seventh Phera – Love and Friendship
Groom: “Om Sakhi Jaradastayahga”
Bride: Attramshe Sakshino Vadet Pade”

What it signifies:
The seventh and last phera seals the holy matrimony with a promise of love and friendship. The groom declares them to be man and wife, and promises they will be together for eternity. The bride accepts with the promise that they will love, honor, and cherish each other for life.

What it should mean today:
To be each other’s best friend, confidante, and partner-in-crime even when you are old, grey, and wrinkly.

What other vow would you make to your partner?

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