Karva Chauth is an annual Hindu festival celebrated by Hindu and Sikh women where ladies who are married fast from sunrise to sunset. Karva is a word for an earthen pot used to keep water cool and that is also used in the ritual of the ceremony and Chauth comes from the fact that it is celebrated on the 4th day after the full moon in the month of Kartik (Diwali is also celebrated in this month).
The earliest reference to Karva Chauth is found in the Mahabharata when Draupadi, while her husband Arjuna was on a pilgrimage to the Nilgiri hills, was struck with many problems. Fearing that her husband would not return, Draupadi invoked Lord Krishna for advice. Krishna reminded her of Parvati, who in a similar situation sought Lord Shiva’s guidance and was instructed to fast on Karva Chauth. Once she followed his instruction and observed all the necessary rituals, the Pandavas seemed to overcome the problems they were facing.
Typically, women do not do any household duties during the day. They instead dress in their finest and exchange gifts. Most of their time is spent engaging in activities that strengthen the bonds between them such as applying Mehendi or sing traditional songs. They also offer prayers to the goddess Gauri, an incarnation of Parvati and the protector of women.
In the evening, the lady of the house narrates the story of karva Chauth and the women then give thanks and pray for the well-being of their husbands. They only break their fast once they sight the moon, and their first morsel and sip of water are fed to them by their husbands.