Karva is another word for 'pot' (a small earthen pot of water) and chauth means 'fourth' in Hindi that falls on the fourth day after the full moon, in the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Kartik.It is a one-day festival celebrated by Hindu women in Northern India, in which married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and longevity of their husbands.The fast is traditionally celebrated in the states of Rajasthan, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab.Sometimes, unmarried women join the fast for their fiancés or desired husbands.
Story of Princess Veeravati:
"A long long time ago, there lived a beautiful princess by the name of Veeravati. When she was of the marriageable age, Veeravati was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents' house."
"After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen was too delicate and couldn't stand the rigours of fasting. By evening, Veeravati was too weak, and fainted. Now, the queen had seven brothers who loved her dearly. They couldn't stand the plight of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. They made a fire at the nearby hill and asked their sister to see the glow. They assured her that it was the moonlight and since the moon had risen, she could break her fast."
"However, the moment the gullible queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was dead. The queen was heartbroken and rushed to her husband's palace. On the way, she met Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived but would be ill."
"When the queen reached the palace, she found the king lying unconscious with hundreds of needles inserted in his body. Each day, the queen managed to remove one needle from the king's body. Next year, on the day of Karva Chauth, only one needle remained embedded in the body of the unconscious king."
"The queen observed a strict fast that day and when she went to the market to buy the karva for the puja , her maid removed the remaining needle from the king's body. The king regained consciousness, and mistook the maid for his queen. When the real queen returned to the palace, she was made to serve as a maid."
"However, Veeravati was true to her faith and religiously observed the Karva Chauth vrat . Once when the king was going to some other kingdom, he asked the real queen (now turned maid) if she wanted anything. The queen asked for a pair of identical dolls. The king obliged and the queen kept singing a song " Roli ki Goli ho gayi... Goli ki Roli ho gayi " (the queen has turned into a maid and the maid has turned into a queen)."
"On being asked by the king as to why did she keep repeating that song, Veeravati narrated the entire story. The king repented and restored the queen to her royal status. It was only the queen's devotion and her faith that won her husband's affection and the blessings of Goddess Parvati."
The Legend Of Mahabharata:
According to the Mahabharata, Draupadi, too, had observed this fast. At a certain point of time in the Mahabharata, Arjun was forced to go into exile in the Nilgiris to make amends for his wrongdoings. As a consequence of his absence, his brothers – the other four Pandavas had to face many difficulties. Seeing the distress of her husbands, Draupadi prayed to Lord Krishna for help. Responding to her prayers, Lord Krishna reminded her how Lord Shiva had once advised Goddess Parvati to hold the Karva Chauth fast under similar circumstances. Following Lord Krishna’s advice, Draupadi observed Karva Chauth and its strict rituals and was able to help the Pandavas overcome their difficulties.
The Story Of Satyavan And Savitri:
Yamaraj (the Hindu God of Death) once came down to Earth to take with him the soul of a man named Satyavan. Satyavan was married to a woman by the name Savitri. When Savitri came to know of Yamaraj’s intentions, she begged Yama to spare her husband’s life. Despite her desperate requests, Yamaraj was bound by his duty and refused to spare Satyavan’s life. Unable to cope with the death of her husband, Savitri stopped eating food and drinking water (just like is the case with the Karva Chauth fast) and started to follow Yamaraj as he carried her husband’s soul with him. Seeing Savitri’s unrelenting devotion, Yamaraj turned to her and granted her a boon while also saying that she could not directly ask for her husband’s life. Savitri agreed to yamaraj’s condition but at the same time she used her wisdom and asked Yama that she be blessed with children. She further added that because she was completely devoted to her husband (a ‘Pati-vrata’ woman) she would never have children from any man other than Satyavan. Finally, Yamaraj could see no alternative but to revive Satyavan back to life. Savitri’s willingness to quit food and water for the life of her husband manifests today in the fasting ritual of Karva Chauth.