Saptapadi, also known as the seven steps or vows, is a sacred ritual that takes place during a traditional South Indian wedding. It is considered one of the most important ceremonies of the wedding and symbolizes the union of the bride and groom as husband and wife.  The word “Saptapadi” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “Sapta” which means seven, and “Padi” which means steps.


Informant: AA is a 50-year-old woman born in India and living in London, UK for the last 25 years.  She is my aunt. She is a General Physician practicing in London.

Interviewer: When does this Saptapadi ritual happen?

AA: The Saptapadi ceremony takes place after the Kanyadaanam ritual, and it involves the bride and groom taking seven steps together around the sacred fire.  Each step is taken with a vow or promises the couple makes to each other.

Interviewer:  What happens during this ritual?

AA:  The ceremony begins with the bride and groom standing facing each other, holding hands. The priest recites mantras and prayers, seeking the blessings of the gods and goddesses for the couple’s happy and prosperous life.  The bride and groom then take seven steps together around the sacred fire, with each step representing a promise or vow.

Interviewer:  What do you think is the significance of each step?

AA:  Each step has its own significance.

  1. The first step is taken for food and nourishment, a commitment to taking care of each other’s physical needs.
  2. The second step is taken for strength and power, a pledge to support each other and overcome any challenges that may come their way.
  3. The third step is taken for prosperity and wealth, a commitment to sharing their wealth and building a successful life together.
  4. The fourth step is taken for happiness, a promise to bring happiness and joy into each other’s lives.
  5. The fifth step is taken for children, a pledge to raise a family together and to provide their children with love, care, and education.
  6. The sixth step is taken for friendship, a commitment to being each other’s best friend and companion for life.
  7. The seventh and final step is taken for eternity, a promise to love and cherish each other for all eternity.

Interviewer: How do you know all these?

AA: I performed this ritual during my wedding. Also, over the years, within our friends and family circle, I have attended more than 25 such rituals and learned this from elders, parents, and priests. 


The Saptapadi ceremony is a significant ritual in a traditional South Indian wedding, as it symbolizes the union of two individuals into one. It is a moment of joy and celebration, as the couple takes their first steps together as husband and wife.    The Saptapadi ceremony is a beautiful and meaningful ritual that emphasizes the importance of mutual love, respect, and commitment between the bride and groom.  The Saptapadi ceremony interpretation lies in the seven vows or promises that the bride and groom make to each other. These vows symbolize the commitment that the couple has towards each other and the life they will share together.