[h=1]sapta padi[/h]During this ritual, the groom walks with the bride to the right side of the sacred fire. All along, he holds his wife’s right hand in his right hand in the way in which he held her hand during the pâṇi grahaṇam ceremony. He stops, bends down and holds the right toe of his wife with his right hand and helps her take seven steps around the fire. At the beginning of each step, he recites a Veda mantra to invoke the blessings of Maha Vishnu. Through these seven mantras, he asks Maha Vishnu to follow in the footsteps of his wife and bless her with food, strength, piety, progeny, wealth, comfort and health. At the conclusion of the seven steps, he addresses his wife with a moving statement from the Veds summarized below:
Dear Wife! By taking these seven steps, you have become my dearest friend. I pledge my unfailing loyalty to you.This series of Veda mantras starting with “sakhâ saptapadâ bhava…” and ending with “pumse putrâya…” are rich with meaning and imagery.
- Let us stay together for the rest of our lives.
- Let us not separate from each other ever.
- Let us be of one mind in carrying out our responsibilities as householders (gṛhasthas).
- Let us love and cherish each other and enjoy nourishing food and good health.
- Let us discharge our prescribed Vedic duties to our elders, ancestors, rishis, creatures, and gods.
- Let our aspirations be united. I will be the Saaman and may you be the Rk (Saaman here refers to the music and Rk refers to the Vedic text that is being cast into music). Let me be the upper world and let you be the Bhumi or Mother Earth. I will be the Sukla or life force and may you be the bearer of that Sukla. Let me be the mind and let you be the speech.
- May you follow me to conceive children and gain worldly as well as spiritual wealth. May all auspiciousness come your way.