Hindu Wedding Vows for the Modern, Professional Couple

The following are modified Wedding Vows based on the Hindu marriage tradition of the Seven Steps, in which the couple walk in a circle. Due to the often voluminous Western wedding dresses, I did not include actual motion in these Wedding Vows, which I wrote for a Bride and Groom — with the Bride being of Indian heritage. Through research, I learned that the main thrusts of a Hindu wedding ceremony are: Harmony, Happiness, Growth and Respect. A marriage is seen as the start of a journey, naturally enough. But I also learned something else of note. Harmony in Hinduism for hundreds if not thousands of years has meant, in euphemistic subtext, that the Wife be obedient to the Husband. That’s how harmony is achieved. Obedience. As this was a modern, professional couple, I changed the language to reflect an equal partnership with more modern notions of marriage, e.g., I cut the word “sacrifice” for one.

I also often wonder this same thing about the current Yoga craze, in which “harmony” is big. What are Yoga Practitioners unwittingly burying in their subconscious, agreeing to, by grafting on another culture’s values in doing its practices? One may think they’re doing it for flexibility, but Yoga was originally developed for teenage boys as training in Indian nationalist military and guerilla warfare. The military demands obedience. Young men certainly do not need flexibility in their limbs…but for militaristic purposes, do need to be made agile, yes, and subservient. 

WEDDING VOWS — HINDU SEVEN STEPS

Celebrant (to Guests):

In the Hindu tradition, the Seven Steps is the aspect of the ceremony that legalizes the marriage. Each step represents a marital vow, much the same as Wedding Vows in Western culture. Therefore, the seven promises the Bride and Groom now make to one another are taken from the Seven Steps.

Celebrant (turning to Couple):

The time has come for you to make your Wedding Vows. Within this blessed union of souls, where your two hearts intertwine to become inseparable, there lies a promise. Perfectly born, divinely created, and intimately shared, it is a place where the hope and majesty of beginnings reside. Where all things are made possible by the astounding love you share. As you hold each other’s hands in this promise, look to the future in each other’s eyes. May your unconditional love and devotion take you to places where you’ve both only dreamed. Where you’ll dwell for a lifetime of happiness, sheltered in the warmth of each other’s arms.

Please answer, “We do,” after I read each of the seven sacred vows.

Celebrant:

Do you promise to respect and honor each other?

Bride and Groom: We do.

Celebrant:

Do you promise to share each other’s joy and challenges?

Bride and Groom: We do.

Celebrant:

Do you promise to trust and be loyal to each other?

Bride and Groom: We do.

Celebrant:

Do you promise to cultivate fidelity for wisdom, truth, and service?

Bride and Groom: We do.

Celebrant:

Do you confirm your constancy in love, family responsibilities, and spiritual growth?

Bride and Groom:  We do.

Celebrant:

Do you promise to strive to live in harmony?

Bride and Groom: We do

Celebrant:

Do you promise to nurture your eternal bond of true friendship as equal partners?  

Bride and Groom: We do.

After the Seven Steps, in the traditional Hindu ceremony, this prayer is spoken by the couple in alternating lines, I believe. (I wonder if the wife typically says the “I have become yours forever” line.) I did not include it in the ceremony I wrote, but record it here for posterity:

HINDU PRAYER

You have become mine forever.
Yes, we have become partners.
I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you.
Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys.
We are word and meaning, unite.
You are thought and I am sound.
May the nights be honey-sweet for us.
May the mornings be honey-sweet for us.
May the plants be honey-sweet for us.
May the earth be honey-sweet for us.

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