When we speak of Hindu marriage, the most earnest point of sweetness is the seven vows or promises which the couple makes to each other.
These 7 vows are a beautiful symbol of unity, of physical and spiritual unification of the couple, since it kindles the fire of love and awakens a selfless attitude in the heart of hearts. The sacred fire which burns to enlighten the long path on which the couple is supposed to move upon is beautified by these wonderful statements, as if coming from the divine. Making them to each other and keeping the promise constitutes a happy and long married life, which the couple swears to continue for at least a centennial till their last breath.
The warmth of the sacrificial fire along with the enigma of the words makes the couple come closer to a level of unified and complete understanding of love, as well as responsibilities.
The seven vows translate as follows –
1. The first vow is where the couple seeks blessings for livelihood, and work in partnership to achieve it.
Groom: You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children.
Bride: I am responsible for the home and all household responsibilities.
2. The couple seeks protection, courage and strength to progress.
Groom: Together we will protect our house and children.
Bride: I will be by your side as your courage and strength. I will rejoice in your happiness. In return, you will love me solely.
3. The couple seeks wealth and prosperity and they pledge to make each other their top priority.
Groom: May we grow wealthy and prosperous and strive for the education of our children. May our children live long.
Bride: I will love you solely for the rest of my life, as you are my husband. Every other man in my life will be secondary. I vow to remain chaste.
4. Blessings for enhancement of love and expansion of family.
Groom: You have brought sacredness into my life, and have completed me. May we be blessed with noble and obedient children.
Bride: I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can.
5. Blessings for being each others companion forever.
Groom: You are my best friend, and staunchest well-wisher. You have come into my life, enriching it. God bless you.
Bride: I promise to love and cherish you for as long as I live. Your happiness is my happiness, and your sorrow is my sorrow. I will trust and honor you, and will strive to fulfill all your wishes.
6. They seek to be together in all ups and downs.
Groom: May you be filled with joy and peace.
Bride: I will always be by your side.
7. Final vow for partnership and companionship.
Groom: We are now husband and wife, and are one. You are mine and I am yours for eternity.
Bride: As God is witness, I am now your wife. We will love, honor and cherish each other forever.
As one can see, these seven promises enclose every minute aspect of life, beginning from the marriage and ending with the separation of the couples physical bodies. One can find each others peaceful and supportive presence in any condition, be it miserable or enjoyable.
Both shall be there for each other either in the spring of youth or the autumn advancing years, with the love increasing exponentially at each stage of life.