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The 7 Steps (or Blessings) Ceremony

The Hindu ceremony, a rite known as "Samskara," has many components and it is quite beautiful, specific and filled with chanting, Sanskrit blessings and ritual that is thousands of years old. In India, it can last weeks or days. In the West, it typically is at least much shorter.

It is the role of the Hindu priest or "pandit" to lead a couple and their families through the sacrament of marriage. However, as an nondenominational minister, I've had the good fortune of being called upon by Hindu brides and grooms and couples who love Hindu rituals, to incorporated some of the rites into nondenominational, interfaith or multi-faith ceremonies.

In India an important aspect of the Hindu ceremony is to light a sacred fire, created from 'ghee' (clarified butter) and woolen wicks, to evoke the God, Agni (Fire God), to bear witness to the ceremony. Most wedding venues do not allow fire.

The highlight is "Saptapadi," also called the "Seven Steps." Here, traditionally the bride's sari is tied to the groom's kurta, or a sari shawl might be draped from his shoulder to her sari. He leads, her pinky linked with his pinky, in seven steps around the fire or Unity Candle table, as the priest/minister chants the seven blessings or vows for a strong union.

By walking around the fire (candle) they are agreeing to these 7 steps. With each step, they throw small bits of rice into the fire or onto 7 tea leaves (after each blessing and after each time around the table), representing prosperity in their new life together. This is considered the most important part of the ceremony, it seals the bond forever.

A nice way to adapt this into a creative, contemporary ceremony is to light a traditional fire, or use a candle, placed on a small table in front of the wedding altar. Bride and groom can be in tux and white dress as they take seven steps while seven blessings are spoken in English.

Here are Seven Blessings adapted from a Hindu ceremony.

•    •    •
Hindu 7 Steps Ceremony
Typical Indian Hindu 7 Steps (or Blessings) Ceremony

The 7 Steps (or Blessings) Ceremony

Minister: At this time we will celebrate the seven vows of marriage. It is the time to confirm the marriage with the seven final steps. The bride and groom will make seven encirclements around the Unity Candle (of Blending of the Sands) table. Holding hands, they take the seven steps symbolic of their common journey through life. Before each encirclement, I will announce one of the seven vows of marriage. I ask you, _________ and _________, to concentrate upon these seven vows as you take the seven encirclements:

1. May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.

2. May this couple be strong and complement one another.

3. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.

4. May this couple be eternally happy.

5. May this couple be blessed with a happy family life.

6. May this couple live in perfect harmonyŠ true to their personal values and their joint promises.

7. May this couple always be the best of lifelong friends.

Minister: As you have walked the seven steps with each other, your love and friendship have become inseparable and firm. Your promises are witnessed by God's wisdom, truth, and justice. May a kind God forever bless this marriage.

•    •    •

NOTE: Thank you to About.com: Hinduism for their contribution to this page.

These words can be edited, deleted, expanded or adapted to your own 7 Steps (or Blessings) Ceremony as needed.

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