Every religion has certain norms and regulations which are followed while conducting a wedding ceremony. Indian marriages are however, the most flamboyant and colorful due to the various rituals and events attached with them. Among the various ceremonies and rituals forming part of the wedding ceremony, the most pious and sacred part of the Indian wedding is the 7 pheras or encirclements, also called Saptapadi in Sanskrit, around the sacred fire which the couple take. The holy Fire represents Agnidevta or the God of Fire and hence this ritual is performed in its presence and around it. Every phera carries a promise which the couple makes to each other in the presence of the Holy Fire God. The first three pheras are completed with the bride leading and in the rest pheras groom leads the way.
How are these pheras performed?
The seven sacred pheras are performed in the presence of a priest who utters the Vedic mantras for each one of them while the bride and the groom sit around the fire. After specific instructions for the priest, the bride and the groom rise up and walk around the fire seven times. The entire ritual comes to an end with the last and the seventh phera.
Significance of each phera:
In The First Phera: The couple seeks blessings from God Almighty and asks him to bless them with good health through healthy food and a respectful life. The significance of this phera also lies in the fact that God is the only ultimate deity who can bless the couple with wholesome food and an honorable life.
The Second Phera Symbolizes: The couple pleading to God to impart them with mental stability, physical health and spiritual strength so that they can lead their life smoothly after getting bound in the pious relationship as husband and wife forever.
In The Third Phera :The couple invokes God to provide them with utmost wealth, wisdom and prosperity so that they have a content and happy life every after. The significance of this phera also specifies the importance of religious and sacred responsibility which the couple would keep performing in their future life.
In The Fourth Phera: the couple requests God to bestow them with happiness and rapport. This phera even marks the significance and importance of family, parents and elders. It is a commitment and pledge taken by, and between, the two beings to take care of their elders, family member and parents throughout their life.
In The Sixth Phera: The couple implores to have a long and happy life together. They pray for long lived togetherness and love and enjoy plentiful seasons in each other’s company. This phera is completely related to a long, joyous and happy life forever.
In The Seventh And The Last Phera: Which adds completion to the ritual of the seven pheras, the couple begs for a long lasting bond, enriched with good understanding, compatibility, loyalty and In the sixth phera, the groom says that his heart is filled with joy as she has taken six steps with him towards the beginning of a new life. He wishes to have her by her side always and glut his life with pleasure and peace.
“Om sakhijaradastayahga”- in the seventh phera, the groom says that they have now become one identity and henceforth he would be incomplete without her. He confirms that his existence from now on would be completely devoted to her, the bond between them has now become perpetual and now he is completely hers.