Seven Steps in Hindu Marriages in Andhra Pradesh,India.
A Hindu marriage comprises several meaningful rituals. Each such marriage ritual has varying degrees of significance. The most important of them all is the " Saptapadi " or the " Seven Steps " which the couple takes together after tying the Mangalsutra or Thali (sacred thread). The manner in which these seven steps are taken differ. In some South Indian marriages, these seven steps are taken towards the Southern direction with the groom holding the little finger of the bride and then going round the sacred fire. In certain other marriages, the groom holds the hand of the bride and leads her around the fire seven times. Every step is taken invoking the Gods to shower their blessings on the couple.
The Seven Steps
With the first step , the couple invokes the Gods for plentitude of food.
With the second step , the couple prays to the Gods to give them both mental and physical strength and a healthy life free from ailments.
The third step is for the fulfilment of spiritual obligation for the couple and for the successful performance of their spiritual duties.
The fourth step is for the attainment of happiness in all walks of life.
The fifth step is to pray for the welfare of all living entities in the entire Universe.
The sixth step is for bountiful seasons all over the world.
The seventh step is taken invoking the prayer and sacrifice for universal peace.
On taking these seven steps together, the couple agrees to be companions forever and pray that they never have any conflicts so as to break this companionship. Having sought each other out to be life partners, they agree to lead a harmonious life taking into consideration not only each other's likes and dislikes, but also keeping in mind the good of the entire family. They pray for their unity, prosperity and happiness.
Under the Hindu Law, a marriage is not complete on tying the Mangalsutra or Thali alone. A couple are declared husband and wife only after the Saptapadi is complete. The ideals behind the Saptapadi acquire more significance from the fact that the married couple pray not only for their own welfare but also for the health and prosperity of all living beings and the entire Universe.