Why is Saptpadi an essential part of the Hindu wedding ceremony?
After going around the fire seven times, the next ceremony is saptpadi; literally the seven steps. In Hindu law, a marriage is not complete without saptpadi. Here, the bride and groom move step by step in unison taking seven steps, with the priest chanting mantras at each step, while the couple take vows and make commitments with the gods, parents and others as witnesses to ensure a lifetime of marital bliss.
The ceremony has a definite purpose. When two people meet they get to know each other. When they walk together they inquire about each other and make firm commitments. The seven steps are symbolic of walking together by a couple. The walk around the fire is equated with walking together. Since saptpadi is a requirement of Hindu law for a marriage to be valid, it is symbolized by making seven lines or mounds of rice grains or of turmeric powder. Each line represents a step. With each step the couple dismantles one line with their feet. A particular aspect of life is covered with each step.
With the completion of this ceremony, the groom tells the bride that since her father and mother have now married her before relatives and friends, she should sit on his left side as directed in Hindu religious texts. He further tells her that if she still has any doubts she is welcome to speak out. In response she gets seven points clarified. When both agree, a new step is taken by rubbing off a line.
Step 1: This step refers to the availability of ample food in the home and eating and living together. Food is related to health and welfare. It is important that both must eat wholesome food together.