The saat phere in Hindu weddings is probably the most talked about ritual. But do we really know why? While a Hindu wedding has a plethora of rituals and customs each with its own significance, what is it about saat phere that a special position has been accorded to it? Let unravel before you the intricacies.

Saat phere; Photography: Achin Grover

What is saat phere?
Saat phere, also known as mangal phere or parikrama, refers to the seven rounds around the holy fire by the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony. Amidst the chanting of sacred verses and hymns, the couple promises to be lifelong companions. Often, saat phere is confused with saptapadi. It is to be noted that while saat phere is around the fire, saptapadi refers to the seven steps taken in front of the fire.

Holy rounds around the fire; Photography: Atul Pratap Chauhan

Saat phere and their significance
The ceremony is initiated by tying a knot with one end of the bride’s dupatta and the groom’s stole/scarf. It is then followed by circumambulating around the fire in clockwise direction. The first four rounds are led by the bride and the remaining three by the groom. The seven rounds are performed around the fire as fire symbolizes energy of the sun god, who is considered to be an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Thus, taking the holy fire to be the prime witness, the couple is actually making a vow in front of the almighty. Fire is also believed to be the destroyer of all sins. In the first four rounds, the bride is supposed to lead as she is considered to be superior in all household and family matters.

Saat phere in a beach wedding; Photography: Vrutika Doshi

While the final three rounds are led by the groom as he is believed to be the provider and protector. Thus, while going around the fire, promises are made to each other that they’ll assist and support each other to lead a balanced conjugal life. Seven rounds around the fire denote that the couple is united for the next seven lives. The seven rounds stand for nourishment, strength, prosperity, happiness, progeny, long life and harmony, and understanding. Saat phere is the one ritual that completely validates a Hindu wedding and offers a sense of totality to the wedding ceremony.  

Saat phere in a Hindu wedding; Photography: Vrutika Doshi