What are the Saptapadi or seven promises of marriage a Hindu couple takes walking around the fire?
The seven steps around the fire represents seven promises taken by newly married couple in the presence of the fire. In Hindu religion, he is believed as the maintainer of life. He carries the fruits of the yajna performed by us. So seven steps are done in presence of fire. These are called as SaptaPadi meaning seven steps in sanskrit. The couple take seven revolutions around the fire taking seven promises.
The following are the vows taken by the groom :
1.‘इष एकपदी भव-सामामनुव्रताभव-पुत्रान्विदावहैबहूंस्तेसंतुजरदष्टय:
O' bride you have walked one step with me. Now we have become friends;hence you will become provider of food.Help me to fulfill my vowed religious observances (vrats). May we have many sons and may they have a long life.
उर्जेव्दिपदीभव-सामामनु० ।।(The rest should be chanted like the mantra at number 1 and the same should be repeated when each mantrai chanted.)
O bride, you have walked two steps with me; hence may you become one who will give me strength.
रायस्पोषायत्रिपदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)
O bride, since you have walked three steps with me, may you become one who will increase my wealth.
- मायोभव्यायचतुष्पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)
Since you have walked four steps with me may you increase my happiness.
- प्रजाभ्य: पंचपदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)
Since you have walked five steps with me, may you give birth to children.
- ऋतुभ्य:षट् पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)
Since you have walked six steps with me may you give me pleasure in all seasons.
- सखासप्तपदीभव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)
You have walked seven steps with me, hence our friendship (relationship) has become strong.
The following are the vows taken by the bride :
- त्वत्तो मेऽखिलसौभाग्यं पुण्यैस्त्वं विविधै: कृतै: ।
देव ! संपादितो मह्यं वधूराद्ये पदेऽब्रवीत् ।।
O Lord! I have had the good fortune of acquiring you due to the various types of merits acquired by me in various births.
- कुटुंबं पालयिष्यामि ह्यावृद्धबालकादिकम् ।
यथालब्धेन संतुष्ठा व्रते कन्या व्दितीयके ।।
I will look after your entire family, from the infant to the aged and will be happy with whatever I get for my sustenance.
- मिष्ठान्नव्यंजनादिनी काले संपादये तव ।
आज्ञासंपादिनी नित्यं तृतीये साऽब्रवीव्दरम् ।।
I will always abide by your directives and will regularly cook delicious food, vegetables, etc.
- शुचि: शृंगारभूषाऽहं वाङ्मन: कायकर्मभि: ।
क्रीडि ष्यामि त्वया सार्धं तुरीये सा वदेव्दरम् ।।
I will embellish myself with clean attire and will indulge in sexual play with you through acts with the mind, speech and body.
- दु:खे धीरा सुखे हृष्टा सुखदु:खविभागिनी ।
नाहं परतरं यामि पंचमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम् ।।
I who face sorrow bravely and remain pleased in happiness will share both your happiness and sorrow and will never indulge in adultery.
सुखेन सर्वकर्माणि करिष्यामि गृहे तव ।
सेवा श्वसुरयोश्चामि बन्धूनां सत्कृतिं तथा ।। यत्र त्वं वा अहं तत्र नाहं वञ्चे प्रियं क्वचित् । नाहं प्रियेण वञ्चा हि कन्या षष्ठे पदेऽब्रवीत् ।।
I will happily perform all your household chores. I will also serve my in-laws and will respect other relatives. I will stay wherever you stay. I will never deceive my beloved (master) and will never get deceived by him.
होमयज्ञादिकार्येषु भवामि च सहाय्यकृत् ।
धर्मार्थकामकार्येषु मनोवृत्तानुसारिणी ।। सर्वेऽत्र साक्षिणस्त्वं मे पतिर्भूतोऽसि सांप्रतम् । देहो मयार्पितस्तुभ्यं सप्तमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम् ।।
O master! I will assist you in the rituals of sacrificial fires (homa-yajnya), etc. and will obey you with regard to Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha) and desire (kama). Here, in the presence of the deity of fire (Agnidev), the Brahmans, my parents and relatives you have become my master and I have offered my body unto you.
The above are the vows taken by the bride and groom separately. On the whole the meaning of each step is as follows.
First step- For nourishment of each other
Second step- To grow together in strength
Third step- To preserve our wealth and become rich.
Forth step- To attain happiness and harmony
Fifth step- To care their children, in-laws and relatives.
Sixth step- For Long life togetherness.
Seventh Step- Life long loyalty unity and all goodness forever.
All gṛhya sūtrās speak about seven steps only. The sath phera or seven circumambulations around the fire is a recent development and not said in any gṛhya sūtrās.
Source : This blog
Quoting from this blog, the seven marriage vows you are referring to are:
Step 1. Groom: My beloved, our love became firm by walking one step with me. You will offer me the food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide for the welfare and happiness of you and our children.
Step 1. Bride: This is my humble submission to you, my lord . You kindly gave me responsibility of the home, food and taking charge of the finance. I promise you that I shall discharge all responsibilities for the welfare of the family and children.
Step 2. Groom: My beloved, you have now walked the second step with me. Fill my heart with strength and courage and together we shall protect the household and children.
Step 2. Bride: My lord, in your grief, I shall fill your heart with strength, In your happiness, I shall rejoice. I promise you that I will please you always with sweet words and take care of the family and children and you shall love me alone as your wife.
Step 3. Groom: My beloved, now you have walked three steps with me. By virtue of this, our wealth and prosperity are bound to grow. I shall look upon all other women as my sisters. Together, we will educate our children and may they live long.
Step 3. Bride: My lord, I will love you with single minded devotion as my husband. I will treat all other men as my brothers. My devotion to you is of a chaste wife and you are my joy. This is my commitment and pledge to you.
Step 4. Groom: My beloved, it is a great blessing that you have walked four steps with me. You have brought auspiciousness and sacredness into my life. May we be blessed with obedient and noble children. May they be blessed with long life.
Step 4. Bride: My lord, I will decorate you from your feet up with flowers, garlands and anoint you with sandal wood paste and fragrance. I will serve you and please you in every way.
Step 5. Groom: My beloved, now that you have walked the five steps with me, you have enriched my life. May God bless you. May our loved ones live long and share in our prosperity.
Step 5. Bride: My lord, I share both in your joys and sorrows. Your love will make me trust and honor you. I will carry out your wishes.
Step 6. Groom: My beloved, you have filled my heart with happiness by walking six steps with me. May you fill my heart with great joy and peace from time to time.
Step 6. Bride: My lord, in all acts of righteousness, in material prosperity and in every form of enjoyment and divine acts, I promise you that I shall participate and shall always be with you.
Step 7. Groom: My beloved, as you walked the seven steps with me, our Love and friendship became eternal. We experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely mine and I offer my life to you. Our marriage will be for ever.
Step 7. Bride: My lord, as per the law of God and the Holy scriptures [Vedas] I have become your spouse. Whatever promises we gave, we have spoken with pure mind. We will be truthful to each other in all things. We will love each other for ever.
After these seven steps, the marriage becomes legal by Hindu law codes [Manu 8.227].
Then, they both say: "Now let us make a vow together. We shall share the same food, share the strengths, the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together; I shall be the Sama, you the Rigveda; I shall be upper world, you the earth; I shall be the Sukhilam. you the Holder; Together we shall live and beget children, and other riches. Come thou, Oh, sweet-worded girl."
For the original Sanskrit verses and their in depth explanation, you can read this excerpt I've taken from the book The Vivāha, the Hindu Marriage Saṁskāras by Bhaiyārām Śarmā tr. by R. C. Prasad, but I strongly suggest you buy the full book from this Google Books link or Motilal Publishers website.
Some people actually print out the seven vows on their wedding cards, here's an example from a Telugu wedding invite (but it only contains the vows taken by the bridegroom, so not a complete one):