These days, in Hindu marriages, it being insisted that along with Hindi translation of wedding vows recited as Sanskrit verses, their English meanings be also told and explained. Even many foreigners travel all the way to India to tie their matrimonial knots in Indian marriage style. It needs to be understood that the Hindu wedding vows are beyond mere promises or declaration of love by the couple but the heartfelt commitments of two souls becoming one.
In Vedic traditions, Hindu marriage is called Panigrahan Sanskara and is solemnized by the seven pheras or saptapadi or seven-steps in the presence of sacred fire by the couple and taking shared vows in Sanskrit with each phera or step.
Although the exact meaning of each and every vow is inexplicable because it is understood fully by the one who feels it, however, a basic understanding of each one of them could be shared taking one vow at a time.
Among NIRs and Hindus settled in US, now the seven wedding vows are administered in English by the priests. The following vows were posted by a facebook friend on mine from US which have become common in the west for Hindu marriages.
1. Nourishment-With our first step together we pray to God to provide us with pure and nourishing food. Together we will live our lives with honour and respect for each other.
2. Strength-With our second step together we pledge to grow in physical, mental and spiritual strengths. Together we will share happiness and enjoy life.
3. Prosperity-With our third step we promise each other to earn and increase wealth by righteous way and provide comfort to the family. Together we will share all our sorrows and joys.
4. Family-With our forth step together we pledge not to forget our parents and elders. Together we will maintain and strengthen the family bonds.
5. Progeny-With our fifth step together we pray to God to bless us with beautiful, kind and brave children. Together as responsible parents, we shall provide them with good education and values of life.
6. Health-With our sixth step together, we pray to God for a healthy and disease free life for us and our families. Together we will live a balanced and harmonious life.
7. Companionship-With our seventh step together, we promise to be a loyal companion. Together we will live a life of mutual trust, love and friendship