Date of Performance/Collection: April 2007
Primary Language: English
My informant witnessed this marriage ceremony during his last trip to India. He specifically returned to India to be present for the marriage of his cousin and her husband. He told me the tradition of saptapadi. He told me that in India, fire is considered to be very powerful and important. Thus, during weddings, the bride and the groom will often walk around a large fire seven times. In the Hindu culture, this makes the marriage official and complete.
Each time that the bride and the groom walk around the fire, they say a phrase that represents another step towards marriage. The first phrase involves a plea to the gods to bless them with a respectable life filled with enough food for an entire family. In the second walk around the fire, the couple prays and asks for health and strength so that they can have a long life together. The third time they walk around the fire, the gods give them strength through spiritual means. The fourth walk around the fire represents their love for one another. During this walk, they ask that they be happy together forever and always love and respect one another. In the fifth walk around the fire, the couple asks to be blessed with many loving children. In the sixth walk around the fire, the couple asks to go through life together, even if they may go through tragedy and sorrow. In the final walk around the fire, the couple prays for everyone in the world. They pray that everyone lives a life of peace, and that everyone is loyal together and finds pure companionship. After the bride and the groom fulfill this tradition, they say some words together that are like the vows said during Western weddings.
My informant said that it was very interesting to attend a Hindu ceremony. It is the first one that he has been to, and he says that it makes him feel much closer to his culture. It also makes him realize how important marriage and companionship in India is. He said that very few couples get divorced, even if things are very bad. The couple will still live together and try to work things out. I think that marriage is very sacred in India. In Western culture, more and more people get divorced. Oftentimes, one will hear about a couple that divorces after just two months of living together. I believe that going through this tradition of saptapadi makes a couple feel closer and more connected, not just between the couple but also with the families who attend the wedding, because they have all undergone this tradition as well.