What is Marriage/Vivah?
Marriage is a sacred and everlasting bond which joins two individuals for life, so that they can perform their duty, earn wealth, fulfill physical desires, and attain ultimate spiritual realization together. The man and wife are considered one entity and are enjoined to secure these aims as one person. The marriage also joins two families together.
What are the Benefits of Marriage?
Marriage, the blending of single man and single woman, is a personal, but not private, relationship with great public impact. Marriage is good for both man and woman; it is also provides the best conditions for bearing and raising children. Some advantages are mentioned below.
Marriage and Health
• Men appear to reap the most physical health benefits from marriage and suffer the greatest health problems if they divorce.
• Married mothers have lower rates of depression than single mothers, because they are more likely to receive practical and emotional support from their child’s father and his family.
• On average, husbands and wives are healthier, happier and enjoy longer lives than those who are not married.
Marriage and Wealth
• Married couples build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples.
• Married women are economically better off than divorced, cohabiting or never-married women.
Marriage and Children
Children raised by their own married mother and father are:
• Less likely to be poor or to experience persistent economic insecurity
• More likely to stay in school, have fewer behavioral problems
• Less vulnerable to serious emotional illness, depression and suicide
• More likely to have positive attitudes towards marriage and greater success in forming lasting marriages
Marriage and Crime/Domestic Violence
• Married women are at lower risk for domestic violence than women in cohabiting or dating relationships.
• Boys raised in single-parent homes are more likely to engage in criminal and delinquent behavior than those raised by two married biological parents.
• Married women are significantly less likely to be the victims of violent crime than single or divorced women. Married men are less likely to perpetrate violent crimes than unmarried men.
Marriage and Society
• The institution of marriage reliably creates the social, economic and affective conditions for effective parenting.
• Being married changes people’s lifestyles and habits in ways that are personally and socially beneficial.
• Marriage generates social capital. The social bonds created through marriage yield benefits not only for the family but for the entire society.
Irrespective of the style and size of the wedding, one thing that remains common in all Hindu marriages is the 'seven vows' signified by the sacred 'saat pheras' around fire or 'agni', which is one of the most essential rituals of Indian weddings. With each 'phera' the couple makes a vow, a commitment with strong mythological roots, which is to be lived forever and more, its only then that a couple is accepted as husband and wife for the next seven births to come.
These seven vows are supposed to serve as an anchor to keep the couple going through all the ups and downs of life together, as husband and wife tied to each other in a sacred relationship.
The couple appeals to the almighty to shower blessings in the form of pure and nourishing food with a respectful and noble life. The groom pledges to provide welfare and happiness to his wife and children, whereas the bride swears to shoulder all responsibilities for the welfare of the groom's entire family.
The groom requests the bride to be his strength so that he can provide security and protect the family with courage. The bride agrees to abide by, while demanding eternal love and undivided attention.
The couple pleads for wisdom, wealth, and prosperity in order to live a content and satisfied life. They pledge to remain spiritually committed and the bride assures the groom that by the virtue of true love and devotion she will remain a chaste wife.
The groom thanks his would-be wife for bringing auspiciousness, happiness, and sacredness in his life. In return, the bride takes an oath to serve and please her husband in every way possible. Together, they also pledge to take care and respect their elders in the family.
The importance of the fifth vow is to pray for the welfare of all the living things in this Universe and begetting a noble breed. The couple also prays to almighty to bless each other's friends and family with happiness and well-being.
In the sixth vow, God is invoked to bless the couple for bountiful seasons and long lived togetherness. The groom wishes that his wife would glut his life with joy and peace; while the bride provides assurance that she would participate with her husband in all his noble and divine acts.
This is the last vow adding completion to the ceremony. Here the couple pleads for the long lasting relationship, enriched with understanding and loyalty. They take an oath to nourish their relationship with love and honesty and be together with each other forever not only in this life, but also in the lives to come.
Even though different religions and cultures have their own unique set of vows and different ways to perform them, the basic meaning of all remains the same 'commitment', a vow of being spiritually united as one. It is a way to assure your partner that he/she is worthy of your love and you are willing to submit, 'till death do you part'.
True love is all that you need to fulfill all the vows mentioned above; what according to you are the importance of these 'pheras'?