Sapta means 7 and Padi means steps.
Sapthapadi, the 7 steps is an important ritual in a marriage ceremony.
7 steps together
Here the bride and the bridegroom enter into an understanding as they do Pradakshina, circumambulate in the Agni, fire altar 7 times,
“My life partner, with these 7 steps that we take together holding hands.”
1. Not stray from being companions.
2. We shall have deep liking affection towards each other.
3. Together have a noble bent of mind.
4. May our thinking, ideas and ideals be Alike.
5. Together we shall enjoy the bounties of food, desires and wealth.
6. Together we shall carry out our duties towards the prosperity of our progeny, family and society.
7. Oh the truthful one, let us together tread this noble path.
Universal Practice with minor variations
While the concept is same, it is all about 7 steps. In Hindi, it is called Sathphera
Interpretation and regional variations have occurred which is but natural.
This is the practical sharing of aspirations of a husband to his wife at their poignant moment. It is these thoughts and the symbolic 7 steps that is practiced in this form or in minor variants across the land in Nagara, Grama and among Vanavasi too.
The ritual of Sapthapadi is not just creating a bond between husband and wife but is a ritual that binds the civilization across the land across times.
There is an interesting Indian legend on the significance of Sapthapadi.
Significance of Saptapadi – Savitri Yama conversation
After Yama had taken the life of Satyavan, Savithri the wife of Satyavan quietly follows Yama, for the soul of Satyavan had left its body and was in Yama’s hand now. After some distance, Yama observes Savithri following him and asks her to go back to her husband’s body. Savithri then tells Yama that Satyavan’s soul is with Yama and hence is following him. Savithri wants to engage Yama in a conversation, which Yama initially refuses. Savthri then says that she has walked with Yama more than 7 steps and she is now his friend and would like to engage in a conversation with him.
At the end of their ensuing dialogue, Savithri with her guile is able to win over Yama and retrieve her husband.
The point to be taken from this story is walking more than 7 steps together makes one a friend to engage in a conversation. The Sapthapadi, the 7 steps is the beginning of the life long journey of the couple, where they have the ageless time honoured, given right to engage in conversation to overcome obstacles, including even winning over Yama. That is the strength of Sapthpadi, Sathphera.