Under the chuppah, the bride customarily revolves around her fiancé three or seven times in the Ashkenazi tradition. Some think that this is done to establish a mystical barrier of protection from bad spirits, temptation, and the gazes of other ladies. Others claim that it is merely for show and to make the ceremony last as long as possible.
The number of times she walks is dependent on her gender. If she is a woman, she will walk 7 times; if a man, then he will walk 3 times.
This ritual comes from the ancient Hebrew practice of circumambulating something that you want to include in your marriage, like a temple or sacred space. The idea is that by walking counterclockwise you are including all parts of your life in your marriage: home, work, friends, and family. By walking three times for a man and seven times for a woman, these rituals balance out so that no part of your life is neglected.
There are many variations on how many times each person will walk. Sometimes the groom will walk twice while the bride only walks once. Other times they will do the opposite- the groom will walk once while the bride walks twice. The number of walks varies depending on the rabbi, priest, or minister conducting the ceremony. They can decide how many times to walk based on what they believe is appropriate for the couple.
In Jewish tradition, after the bride and groom enter the huppah (a canopy traditionally used in Jewish weddings) or the bride walks to the alter escorted by her father, the bride circles the groom seven times, representing the seven wedding blessings and seven days of creation, and demonstrating that the bride and groom are in love. The groom will usually wait in the center of the room with a chair placed behind him for the bride to sit in, but this is not required.
There is no specific reason why the bride should circle her husband seven times. It is just a custom that has grown over time.
The number seven has many meanings for people who practice Judaism. It can be a complete cycle, as in a week. It can also mean a repetition of actions for emphasis or as a prayer. A bridal circuit around her husband means that the wife wants to be blessed by the priest in each aspect of her life: "bless me with happiness," "protect me from sadness," and so on.
During World War II, when rubber and other material shortages prevented some Jewish marriages from being solemnized, the rabbis developed a method they called "the bride's circuit" to ensure that no marriage was invalidated. In this procedure, the bride went around her husband seven times after they were married by a rabbi or Jewish clergy member. The purpose was to show how every aspect of their lives would be blessed with happiness, protection, and peace during these difficult times.
The bride and groom circumambulate (walk around) the holy fire seven times as they exchange their wedding vows at Saath Phere. This is due to the bride and groom exchanging marital vows and collectively praying for a happy married life.
The ritual is believed to guarantee happiness in marriage, as well as protect the married couple from all kinds of evil eye. The bride and groom also wear saffron clothes during this period.
It is customary for the bride and groom to walk around the holy fire seven times immediately after the wedding ceremony is over. If one or both of them are not able to walk properly, then an elder family member or friend can help them out.
In some parts of India, it is believed that if the bride and groom do not walk around the holy fire seven times, then they will not be able to have a child of their own. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim.
There is another story behind this tradition. It is said that years ago, when marriages were arranged by families, not chosen by the individuals themselves, there was a time when brides were burned alive on their wedding nights. As a protection against this practice, it is believed that walking around the fire seven times will drive away any bad energies.
According to a math teacher, each circle has 360 degrees. The only number between 1 and 9 that cannot be divided by 360 is 7. So the Bride and Groom go around the fire seven times to ensure that nothing can separate them... Hats off to our Vedic mathematicians.
Some ladies walk once around their groom-to-be, while more Orthodox brides walk seven times. In Jewish weddings, the number seven is significant; for example, seven glasses of wine are consumed during the ceremony and subsequent celebrations. The practice of walking around arose to allow women to be sure they were wearing appropriate clothing for the wedding. Before then, marriages were arranged by families without much input from the couple. As well, the men had more freedom to choose wives than their female counterparts did. So, the practice of walking around came about so that women could be sure to wear clothes that showed respect for their husbands.
In ancient times, when a man had married, he would need to travel some distance to get to his wife's home. Since it was important for him to return home at some point during the first night of his marriage, the practice of walking around arose so that he wouldn't have to stay out late searching for her house. This practice still exists in certain parts of the world where women are not allowed to go out alone. They must always be accompanied by a male family member or friend.
The number of times a woman walks around her husband depends on how religious she is. If she is very observant, she may walk around him seven times during the ceremony and again after saying "Kum Shmuz" (Hebrew for "So Let It Be").