Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi (An Exhaustive Guide To The Karva Chauth Fast)
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi
Karva Chauth is a one-day festival celebrated by married Hindu women. It is marked by a strict fast wherein no food or water is consumed for the large part of the day. This article on Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi lists all items required for the pooja(i.e. Karva Chauth Samagri) as well as the step-by-step process to conduct the various rituals during the day. In additions answers to common questions are also covered. If you have any questions about the process or history of Karva Chauth, do mention it in the comments at the bottom of this page. You can also visit our detailed article on Karva Chauth for other info and resources about the festival.
NAVIGATE THE PAGE || Karva Chauth Samagri – List of items required for Karva Chauth puja | Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi – Step-by-step process for the Karva Chauth Fast | Karva Chauth Common Questions
Karva Chauth Samagri | List of items required for Karva Chauth puja
- Karva Chauth Calendar (Karva Chauth Image/Photograph/Stickers can be found easily in local markets at religious paraphernalia shops. Alternatively, you can take a print out of the image at this link)
- Sindoor (Vermillion Powder)
- Dhoop Batti – 1-2 units
- Agar Batti – 3-5 units
- Matchbox – 1 unit
- Paan Leaves / Betel Leaves – 1 (typically available in the market in sets of 5)
- Decorated Karva (Mud pot with an outlet to the side) – 1 Karva if you plan to do the puja in a group, 2 Karvas if you are doing the puja alone.
- Rouli (Red Chandan which is applied on the forehead)
- Mouli/Janeu (Sacred Thread)
- Mitti Diya / Mud lamps – 2 to 3 units
- Ghee/Oil (for use in the diya)
- Rangoli Powder – Colors and amounts as required
- Rangoli Making Instruments (if required)
- Kapoor / Camphor balls – (for use in the diya if required)
- Small garland of flowers – 1-2 garlands
- Circular Sieve – 1
- Cotton (used as wick in diyas as well as to block the exit of the Karva)
- Food ingredients (used during the puja)
- Clean Drinking Water
- Raw rice grains – 100 gm
- Supari / Areca Nut / Betel Nut – 1
- Red bangles
- Toe ring (Bichua), if needed
- Red or Rose-colored saree (can also be gifted by the husband to the wife before the day of Karva Chauth)
- Mehndi Cones/ Henna Cones – 2
- Alta / Red Dye for Hands & Feet
- Nail Polish, Hair Clips and other decorative items as needed
- Indian Anklet (Payal)
- Fruit Juice
- Sweets (Home-made or purchased from shops)
- Any other food items made at home based on your preferences
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | Step-by-step process for the Karva Chauth Fast
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | The Day before Karva Chauth
- One day before the day of Karva Chauth, take a head-bath. Following that apply mehndi in your hands and alta on your legs. You are free to choose from a wide variety of Mehndi Designs and Alta Designs. It can be simple or highly decorative based on your preferences.
- This is also the day to prepare ‘sargi’. Sargi, also known as Sargahi, is the food that is consumed by fasting women on the day of Karva Chauth early in the morning before sunrise.
- Typically, the mother-in-law must prepare the ‘sargi’ and give it as an offering to the married woman. Originally ‘Sargi’ referred to a vermicelli pudding. However, in modern times, this offering consists of both food (like fruits, sweets, puris, kachoris etc.) & cosmetic items (like sindoor, jewelry, a red saree etc.).
- If you are doing the Karva Chauth vrat alone, you can prepare the sargi yourself at home. You should also ensure that you purchase all the required ‘Karva Chauth Samagri’ i.e. items required to conduct the Karva Chauth Puja, on or before this day.
- Note that while Sargi can contain a wide variety of food items like fruits, sweets, milk, seviyaan, puri and kachoris, onion and garlic should not be used as ingredients in any of the items.
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | On the Day of Karva Chauth (Early Morning)
- More than anything else, remind yourself to maintain a positive, calm and happy frame of mind during the day of Karva Chauth. Remember that it will easier to successfully complete the tough fast if you are feeling positive through the day.
- As and when you find time during the day keep thoughts of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh and Lord Kartikeya in your mind. Remember that this is only to ensure that you stay positive during the day and is not a strict requirement.
- On the day of Karva Chauth, wake up 2-3 hours before sunrise (typically around 3.30-4 am). After finishing your morning routine, have ‘Sargi’ as breakfast before the sun rises. Drink as much water as you can during this period. The fasting phase begins with sunrise.
- Remember that Sargi can contain a wide variety of prepared and ready-made food items like milk, fruits, seviyaan, sweets of different varieties etc. However, ensure that you do not eat anything that contains onion or garlic as ingredients.
- Having taken bath and consumed the Sargi, dress yourself in traditional-wear which is representative of your married status. This typically includes a red or rose-colored saree and traditional cosmetics like Sindoor (Vermillion powder), mehndi (henna) on your hands , red bangles, alta (red dye) on your legs, bichua (toe ring) and payal (Indian anklet) etc. Note that red colored sarees are usually preferred by most women but rose-colored sarees can also be worn. Many women prefer to wear the clothes that they had used on their wedding day as Karva Chauth’s primary focus is to celebrate the holy bond of marriage.
- After this, you should spend some time making rangoli outside the door of your house. You are free to use rangoli making instruments as needed. Once again, this is a flexible rule and you can make the rangoli in your backyard or even the inner area of your house near the door depending on space constraints. You are free to choose any rangoli design based on your preferences and constraints.
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | On the Day of Karva Chauth (In the afternoon) | List of steps if you are doing the puja alone
- Around 4 pm in the afternoon, cordon a small square area (40 cm x 40 cm should be sufficient) next to a vertical wall inside or outside your house. Clean the area with water. In the middle of the area make a Swastik mark with wetted Turmeric.
- Against the vertical wall, place the Karva Chauth Calendar (i.e. image of Karva Chauth). The Karva Chauth Calendar contains representations of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva, Lord Kartik and Lord Ganesha as well as the representation of the Karva Chauth Katha/Story. This is the image which is worshiped during the following ritual.
- In the area before the image, place a small bowl with raw rice grains.
- In a plate place other puja items – rouli (red chandan), mouli (sacred thread), haldi powder (turmeric powder), a glass of clean water or a glass of milk, a clean betel leaf and a betel nut.
- Place the karva in the center of the Swastik mark that you had made and fill it with water or milk. You should also stuff the outlet on the side of the Karva with cotton to prevent the liquid from spilling out. In addition, you can also insert currency coins, coins made of precious metals or precious stones into the Karva. Note that the Karva has to be donated after this puja, so decide accordingly.
- Now close the top of the Karva with its cover and over the cover place grains of wheat and sugar. Instead of sugar you can also place 14 Maal-puas on it.
- Now apply the rouli (red chandan) to the Karva and then tie the mouli (sacred thread) around its neck.
- If you are doing the puja alone, prepare another Karva following steps 5 to 6 as above. Place this second Karva next to the image of Karva Chauth. Symbolically, this Karva belongs to Goddess Parvati.
- Now dip the Mango leaves into the glass of water/milk and use it to sprinkle some of the liquid onto the image of Karva Chauth.
- Now apply rouli (i.e. red chandan) to the images of Gods on the Karva Chauth calendar. Then mix a small amount of haldi (turmeric) and akshat (raw rice grains) and sprinkle it on the image with your fingers.
- You should now place the betel leaf before the image and on the top of it, place the betel nut.
- You can also light a dhoop-batti or agar-batti and place it next to the image as you do the puja. In addition, if you have a small garland of flowers you can adorn the image of Karva Chauth with it.
- The next step is to exchange your Karva with the Karva of Goddess Parvati. This exchange has to be done seven times so that at the end you are holding Maa Parvati’s karva in your hands. As you do these exchanges, recite the following words – “Karva le karva le sada suhaagan karva le. Karva le karva le saat bhai ki behen karva le. Karva le karva le saat putron ki maa karva le.” (Meaning – Please take my Karva, oh married woman whose husband will live forever. Please take my karva, oh sister of seven brothers. Please take my karva, oh mother of seven children.)
- Now join your hands and pray to the image of Karva Chauth. Remember to say “Hum apni samajh anusaar puja kar rahein hain. Koi galti ho jaye to humein kshama karna.” (Meaning – I pray to you with whatever understanding I have of rituals. Please forgive me in case I make any mistakes.)
- The pooja ritual is now complete. The next step is to do a recitation of the story of Karva Chauth, also known as ‘Karva Chauth Katha’. Note that some sources describe only one story while some others describe multiple stories one after another. These stories can be read in any language of your choice.
- While reading or listening to the story, you should hold some raw rice grains in your fists. When each story is completed, loosen your fist and place the rice grains into the pallu of your saree. Then take another fistful of rice as the next story is recited.
- When the story-telling session is completed, keep both the karvas aside and donate them to a near-by temple. Similarly the rice grains used during the ritual should also be donated to the temple. Alternatively, you can gift the karva along with other items like cosmetics, fruits, sweets and food preparations to an older married woman in your neighborhood.
- After this puja, touch the feet of all elders in the family to seek their blessings.
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | On the Day of Karva Chauth (In the afternoon) | List of steps if you are doing the puja in a group
- Around 4 pm in the afternoon, cordon a small circular or square area inside or outside your house. Clean the area with water. In the middle of the area make a Swastik mark with wetted Turmeric. You can also place a small puja table here instead. The women in the group should sit in a circle around this area.
- Place the Karva Chauth image at the center of the circle. The Karva Chauth image contains representations of Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva, Lord Kartik and Lord Ganesha as well as a representation of the Karva Chauth Katha/Story. This is the image which is worshiped during the following ritual.
- Next to the image you can place food offerings like fruits and prepared desserts if required. Steps 4-11 must be done separately by each woman in the group.
- In a plate place hold all puja items – a small bowl of raw rice grains, rouli (red chandan), mouli (sacred thread), haldi powder (turmeric powder), a glass of clean water or a glass of milk, a clean betel leaf and a betel nut.
- Place the karva before you and fill it with water or milk. You should also stuff the outlet on the side of the Karva with cotton to prevent the liquid from spilling out. In addition, you can also insert currency coins, coins made of precious metals or precious stones into the Karva. Note that the Karva has to be donated after this puja, so decide accordingly.
- Now apply rouli (i.e. red chandan) to the images of Gods on the Karva Chauth calendar. Then mix a small amount of haldi (turmeric) and akshat (rice) and sprinkle it on the image with your fingers.
- You should now place the betel leaf next to the image and on the top of the leaf place the betel nut. You can also light a dhoop-batti or agar-batti and place it before to the image as you do the puja. In addition, if you have a small garland of flowers you can adorn the image of Karva Chauth with it.
- The next step is to exchange your Karva with the Karva of the woman seated next to you. You can also just pass your karva in a circle. As you pass your karva to another woman, recite the following words – “Karva le karva le sada suhaagan karva le. Karva le karva le saat bhai ki behen karva le. Karva le karva le saat putron ki maa karva le.”
- The pooja ritual is now complete. The next step is to do a recitation of the story of Karva Chauth, also known as ‘Karva Chauth Katha’. Ideally the oldest woman in the group should recite this story. Note that some sources describe only one story while some others describe multiple stories one after another.
- When the story-telling session is completed, keep both the karvas aside and donate them to a near-by temple. Similarly the rice grains used during the ritual should also be donated to the temple. As an alternative, you can also gift the karva along with other gifts like cosmetics, fruits, sweets and other food preparations to one of the older women in the group.
- After this puja, touch the feet of all elders in the group and your family to seek their blessings.
Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi | On the Day of Karva Chauth (In the evening)
- In the evening, you can change into a different set of traditional clothes (once again red/rose-colored saree is preferred) and re-apply traditional and modern cosmetics if needed.
- After that, organize the pooja samagri i.e. list of items required for worship of the Moon at night in order to break the Karva Chauth fast. The list of items required are
- A small pot of clean water
- A plate with fruits, sweets, salted food items, money, a small bowl of ‘akshat’ (raw rice grains), rouli (red chandan), haldi (turmeric) and a small diya (mud lamp filled with oil and a cotton wick)
- A circular sieve
- Once the Moon rises in the sky, light the diya (mud lamp) on the plate and go to a place from where you have a direct view of the Moon. Make sure you take all the pooja items you had gathered in the previous step for this ritual. Note that your husband should accompany you during this ritual. In case he is not available you can also contact him over the phone while conducting the ritual.
- Worship the Moon God by making symbolic offerings of different pooja items.
- First worship the Moon with the plate that has a lit diya on it as well as other pooja items. You can show the diya to the Moon by moving the plate in a circular motion around the image of the Moon.
- Pick-up a small amount of the akshat and turmeric with your fingers and sprinkle them in the direction of the Moon.
- Then offer the pot of water to the Moon. For this, hold the pot in the direction of the Moon and pour some of the water into the ground before you. Ensure that you leave some water in the pot as you will need it to break your fast.
- Finally, close your eyes and pray to the Moon asking for whatever it is that you wish for.
- Now through the circular sieve look at the Moon and then at your husband. You can also balance the diya on the lower rim of the seive as you do this but it is not necessary as you have already used it during the puja of the Moon earlier.
- Your husband should now break your fast by first offering you some of the water from the pot. Then he can feed you some of the food items from the plate with his own hands to conclude the ritual. You can also seek the blessings of your husband by touching his feet. (In case your husband has also kept the fast, you can break his fast by offering him water and food from the same pot and plate respectively.)
- After this you should carry the plate inside, and offer it to your mother-in-law. Then touch her feet to seek her blessings. Ideally, your mother-in-law should bless you using the words “Sada Suhagan Raho. Akhanda Saubhagyawati Bhavah”. (Meaning – May you stay married forever with your husband’s long life. And may you be blessed with good fortune along with your family.)
- The Karva Chauth rituals are now complete. You can now enjoy a sumptuous meal with your family.
- The husband and wife can also exchange gifts at this points.
Karva Chaauth Vrat Vidhi | Common Questions Asked About Karva Chauth
What is the meaning of ‘Karva’?
Karva is a Sanskrit term for a pot made with mud. In the context of Karva Chauth it refers to the mud-pot which has a long mouth just like a kettle. In addition, Karvas come with a lid for the opening on the top which is also made of mud. One key difference from a kettle is that Karvas do not have a handle. Karvas are frequently sold in the market with a lot of additional decoration.
How many Karvas are required during the puja of Karva Chauth?
As outlined in the Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi, you can do all the rituals with 1 or 2 Karvas depending on whether you are doing the fast in a group or alone. However, there are many regional variations in the Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi and in some places women observing the fast organize as many as ten karvas individually, each filled with a different preparation from milk to a wide variety of desserts. This is, however, not a necessity and you should not feel any anxiety or doubt about the effectiveness of Karva Chauth just because you are using a lesser number of karvas. At the end of the day, the success of the fast is determined by the devotion with which you do it.
How do I do the Karva Chauth rituals if I am not able to buy a ‘Karva’?
In case you are unable to procure a traditional Karva made of mud, you can use a karva made out of metal. Alternatively, you can use a small pot or even a normal glass which can serve the same function. If required, you can separately obtain a cover for the pot or glass that you are using. Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi is flexible on this front as long as you are willing to do the puja with pure devotion.
What is Sargi?
Sargi or Sargahi traditionally referred to the breakfast that women observing Karva Chauth had before sunrise. It originally was the name of a kheer (rice pudding) made by the mother-in-law as a gift to her daughter-in-law. However, as the rituals of Karva Chauth have evolved over time, Sargi has come to refer to the entire set of gifts (including food, clothes and cosmetics) used by women on the day of Karva Chauth before sunrise. The only restriction is that sargi should not contain any non-vegetarian items and similarly onion and garlic should not be used as ingredients in any of its food preparations. Consumption of the Sargi is the first step in Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi. Having nutritious food as part of the Sargi will make it easy for you to complete the strict fast.
What is Baya or Bayna?
Towards the end of the day of Karva Chauth, fasting women typically hand over their karvas to their mother-in-law or to an older woman in their family or neighborhood. Along with the karva, gifts like cosmetics, fruits, sweets and other food preparations are also included. This entire set of items is referred to as Baya or Bayna. As part of the Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi, Baya or Bayna can also be donated to a nearby temple instead of an older woman.
What should I do with the Karva at the end of the Karva Chauth rituals?
The traditional practice is to give the karva along with other gift items like cosmetics and food to your mother-in-law. Alternatively, you can give it to any other older married woman within or outside your family.
In case these options are not available to you, you can also donate the karva to a temple near your house.
What type of clothes should one wear on Karva Chauth? Is it necessary to wear new clothes?
It is not necessary to wear brand new clothes on Karva Chauth. However, as you will be engaging in religious rituals, ensure that you wear clean clothes during the day.
Traditional wear is usually preferred with red or rose-colored sarees used most often. Depending on personal preferences you can also go with sarees of other colors. The only reason behind a preference for traditional wear is that it is believed to represent the married status of the fasting woman.
An important thing to note is that you should avoid wearing clothes with shades of black or white on them.
How do I exchange my Karva when I am doing the Karva Chauth rituals alone at home?
As described in the Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi above, you should procure two karvas for the rituals in case you are observing Karva Chauth alone. Both the karvas have to prepared in a similar manner and while doing the pooja, you place one Karva next to the image of Goddess Parvati (who is also represented in the ‘Karva Chauth Calendar’). Symbolically, this karva belongs to Goddess Parvati who is believed to have observed Karva Chauth for the well-being of Lord Shiva and her family in ancient times.
Then as the ritual comes to a close, you can exchange your karva with the karva of Maa Parvati seven times while chanting the words mentioned earlier. Alternatively, in case you procured only karva for the puja, you can just rotate your karva around the image of Goddess Parvati seven times.
Does Karva Chauth strictly require one to go without drinking water for the duration of the fast? What do I do if I am not able to do the Karva Chauth fast due to health or other reasons?
According to ancient scriptures, observers of Karva Chauth have normally preferred to strictly avoid both food and liquids for the duration of the fast. However, Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi has evolved to adjust to modern lifestyles with added flexibility. A lot of women today work in corporate environments and it can become very difficult to hold the fast during a workday.
A common alternative in such situations is to consume only fruits and fruit juices during the fast. Some groups believe that the rules which you adhere to on your first Karva Chauth should remain constant through your lifetime.
Besides this, if you are pregnant or suffering from any health conditions, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor to decide if it is safe for you to keep the fast. In case you are not able to keep the fast, you should still observe the evening ritual of Karva Chauth with your husband and while doing so ask for forgiveness for your inability to keep the fast. Remember that your health and well-being comes first and you should ensure your safety before engaging in strict religious rituals laid out by Karva Chauth Vrat Vidhi.
How do I break the Karva Chauth fast if I am not able to see the Moon due to weather conditions or other reasons?
It is believed that the Moon seen in the sky on the day of Karva Chauth is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. As a result if you are not able to see the Moon due to weather conditions, you can follow an alternative ritual to break the Karva Chauth fast.
However, you should ideally wait for up to 1 hour after the Moon-rise time in your respective city before going ahead with the alternative ritual.
This alternative ritual replaces the moon in the sky with an image of Lord Shiva who is often represented with a moon crescent on his head. You can use a printed photograph of Lord Shiva or even just find an image on a digital device. To break the fast, watch the moon crescent on Lord Shiva’s head through a sieve and then see your husband through the same sieve. Then process with the remaining rituals normally.
What is the significance of watching the Moon through the sieve on the occasion of Karva Chauth?
There are multiple interpretations attached to this ritual.
According to one theory, this ritual is a way of projecting the Moon’s eternal lifecycle onto your spouse. Symbolically, you are praying to God that just like the Moon has an infinitely long lifetime, your spouse may also be blessed with similar longevity.
Another interpretation identifies the Moon as a representation of Lord Shiva. According to ancient Hindu culture, married women typically do not look directly at their elders unless they have a cloth (typically the pallu of their saree) covering their hair. Looking at the Moon of Karva Chauth is symbolically similar to looking at Lord Shiva directly. Hence, it is believed that watching the moon through the sieve serves as a mark of respect to Lord Shiva – the Mahadev and the Lord of Destruction.