Karva Chauth is observed by married women (suhagin Stree) for ensuring wedded bliss and wishing long life for their husbands and children. A married woman who observes this fast is called ‘Saubhagyavati’ (joyous and happy state of wifehood).
On the occasion of this Fast a kalash (small copper container) is filled with either milk or water. In that kalash is placed Pancha Ratna (five pieces of different metals gold, silver, copper, brass and iron). The kalash is then presented to a Brahmin and also exchanged with other married women. While thus presenting the kalash, a wishful prayer is offered to Lord Ganesh: “Let the offerings of this Karva Karak (gift bring long life to my husband and may my marital bliss be everlasting”. And express such desire that ‘May my death precede that of my husband so that I can end my life as a bride, not as a widow).
This story (narrative) first took place between lord Shiva and godess Parvati. Shiva told Parvati about the significance of Karva fast. In Dwapar Yuga, Draupadi asked Lord Krishna about the fast of Karva Chauth. Thereafter, the very first time this fast was observed in the town of Shukraprastha by Veeravati, the daughter of Vedsharma and Leelavati. Ever since this fast has been observed by married women till today.
On the auspicious occasion of Karva Chauth which is on the day of Kartik Krishna Chaturthi, fasting is observed. In the evening, after taking a bath, under a banyan tree (or in the absence of such tree, draw a picture of such tree) place idols or pictures of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Kartikeya and perform pooja ceremony (shodashopachar or sixteen step pooja ceremony). Then for the offerings of arghya (rice, flower etc.), while waiting for the moon to rise, ladies recite the mantra “Om namah Shivaya”. Havan (sacred fire ceremony) is also done. Thereafter, after having first glimpse the moon, offer the arka.
If the husband is present at the time of offering arka, then worship him with Panchopchar or gandh, pushpa, dhoop, deep and naivedya (perfume, flower, incence, lamp and food). If the husband is away on travels, then offer a prayer to almighy god to grant long life to your husband. Thereafter conclude the fast while having evening food.
Lord Krishna urged Draupadi to observe the fast of Karva Chauth so that through its influence Arjuna can defeat the Kauravas on the battlefield and acquire back the kingdom.
Married women who thus offer wishful prayer for marital bliss by observing the Karva Chauth fast, acquire saubhagya, progeny and lasting prosperity.