The seven pheras or ‘saat fere’ is one of the most important wedding rituals of Hindu weddings and are the seven sacred vows the wedded couple makes to each other and to God. Also known as ‘satpadi’ this ceremony entails the couple walking around the holy fire seven times, each step representing a different wedding vow, prayer and wish.
Since these vows are normally in Sanskrit, unfortunately many of us often sit through weddings with the special significance of this wedding ritual going totally over our heads. Let’s take a look at the gist of these momentous seven steps:
1: The couple prays to God so that he always blesses them with enough food and nourishment as well as an honourable life together. The groom vows to give her his love and affection and provide for the happiness and welfare of the bride and their children and asks the bride to provide him with food to sustain him. The bride vows to assume her responsibilities towards home and family.
2: The couple asks the almighty to bestow them with physical and spiritual strength and development so that they can honour their relationship to their best capacity. The groom vows that together they will protect and take care of their home and family. The bride promises to stand by her husband with strength and courage and asks that her husband only love her.
3: They ask God to provide them with wealth and prosperity and the strength to walk together on this path. The groom says that they will look after the children’s education and well-being together and that this is a step signifying his sole commitment to his wife. The bride pledges her love to only her husband and vows to be faithful and committed.
4: The couple prays to God to bless them with happiness and a loving, respectful relationship with each other and their families. The groom says that they pledge to take care of their parents and families and asks that their children have a healthy and happy life. The bride promises to adorn herself only for her husband and please him in every way she can.
5: They pray for noble children and also ask God for the well-being of their relatives as well as kindness towards others. The groom tells the bride how she has completed and enriched his life and hopes that they are blessed with noble children. He asks her to help with good deeds. The bride vows to love, trust and cherish him and also to be by his side and help carry out his tasks.
6: The couple prays for longevity and a joyous togetherness. The groom expresses how happy he is to have his bride is his life and hopes that she always has peace and contentment. The bride promises to always be with her groom.
7: This phera marks the completion of the ritual where the couple asks to be granted with mutual understanding, loyalty and a strong relationship. They both pledge their total devotion to each other.
There are some variations among the different communities or regions – some communities only have 4 pheras while some have more, in some weddings the bride and groom are bound by the duppata whereas in other the groom holds his bride’s hand or there are variations regarding which pheras are led by the bride or groom.
What is your favourite wedding rituals? We would love to know!