This past weekend I attended my first Indian wedding, and it was one of the best weddings I have ever attended. As a relationship coach, I pay attention to more than just how spectacular the bride and groom look. I focus on how the couple met and the way they look at each other during the festivities. These cues can be telltale sign on how smooth or bumpy their journey will be, as they navigate the years together. There was one part of the wedding ceremony that I really enjoyed. It centered around the the seven steps the couple must take to develop a strong and healthy marriage.
What was so energizing was the love and the playfulness the new couple had for each other and the love that the over 300 guests had for them. The wedding ceremonies took place over a couple of days and there were several speeches that gave friends and family many opportunities to show their love toward the happy couple.
When we finally got to the wedding it was so picturesque inside and out. The decorations in the ballroom at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida were beautiful, as was the wonderful view looking toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The most beautiful thing of all was the wedding ceremony itself; even though it was in Sanskrit and, as a non-Hindu, I couldn't understand 99% of what was being said. What helped was the descriptive program the bride and groom provided all their guests. The wedding ceremony was broken up into 8 sections. The one section that caught my eye was at the end of the ceremony and it was called the "Sapthapadi" (The seven steps of Holy Matrimony). The purpose of these steps are to declare your love to each other and show that you have accepted one another voluntarily. The bride and groom gave a concise set of seven promises to each other at the time of their marriage. The seven steps symbolized their seven sacred vows:
- The first step is for a pure household.
- The second step is for mental, physical and spiritual strengths.
- The third step is for wealth.
- The fourth step is for knowledge, happiness and harmony.
- The fifth step is for virtuous, intelligent and courageous children.
- The sixth step is for longevity.
- The final and seventh step is for lifelong companionship.
What's so great about these steps is that they don't just have the couple concentrate on their devotion to each other as a couple, but they also include the characteristics of what a healthy marriage should look like. Even though divorce in the Indian community still remains taboo, I think divorce is primarily not an issue based on the strength of the ceremony itself. If we could somehow include these words in our vows, I wonder how much stronger our marriages would be.
If you had to redo your vows, which step(s) would you choose?
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