Saptapadi is the most important ritual of a Hindu marriage ceremony. The word means Seven steps. The newlywed couple circle around the holy fire four times with their wedding scarves tied together.
The four circles symbolize the four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Karma and Moksha.
- Dharma - Religion and Ethics
- Artha - Wealth and Prosperity
- Karma - Love, Fertility and Family
- Moksha - Spiritual Liberation and Salvation
The bride and groom then take seven steps together representing the vows and promises they are making to each other. That is called Saptapadi. After the seventh step, the couple legally become husband and wife.
A traditional Hindu wedding ceremony is elaborate and complex, incorporating fifteen specific rituals. There are no vows in the Western sense, but the Seven Steps, or Saptha Padhi, around a flame (honouring the fire god Agni) spell out the promises the couple makes to each other:
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