Karwa Chauth is very popular and significant day among Hindu women especially in North India. Karwa Chauth is mainly observed in the states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. It is also significant day in Delhi and NCR (National Capital Region) due to large number of Punjabi families following the tradition of Karwa Chauth with full devotion. It would not be wrong to say that the several rituals related to Karwa Chauth which have become popular in northern India are either formed or influenced by the local culture in Delhi.
Even the Bollywood has its own share to popularize the festival of Karwa Chauth. Many Karwa Chauth rituals currently in vogue in northern India are influenced and even formed due to the way rituals of Karwa Chauth are picturized on the celluloid and popular daily soaps. Due to the rising popularity of Karwa Chauth in cinema, TV and even commercials, it is getting popularized in those states where it was not a traditional festival e.g. the state of Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar.
The tradition of Karwa Chauth is followed by married women only. Most married women observe a day long fast for the long life and well-being of their husband. The fasting on the day of Karwa Chauth is observed without any food. Most women even don't drink a single drop of water until they sight the moon in the late evening. Although unheard in old days, Karwa Chauth fasting is also observed by some husbands for the well-being of their wife as well as to boost their morale during the fasting of Karwa Chauth. Traditionally, Karwa Chauth fasting is done by married women only but many unmarried girls have also started observing it to seek good husband in coming future. New changes and customs which are making their way in the rituals of Karwa Chauth show the popularity of this festival.
Karwa Chauth day coincides with Sankashti Chaturthi during Kartik month as per the Purnimanta calendar followed in North India. Several religious books including Dharamasindhu, Nirnayasindhu and Vratraj mention Karwa Chauth as Karaka Chaturthi.
Both Karaka and Karwa refer to small pitcher which is used during Puja and given as charity or Dan for the wellbeing of the family. It is mentioned that only women have the right to perform fasting on Karwa Chauth as the fasting benefits of Karaka Chaturthi fructify to women only. The fasting on Karwa Chauth is done not only for well-being and long life of the husband but also for the sons, grandsons, wealth and everlasting prosperity of the family.
The fasting and Puja which is performed on Karaka Chaturthi is mainly dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati being Akhand Saubhagyavati is worshipped first during the Puja followed by Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha. Women also worship Goddess Gaura and Chauth Mata who represent Goddess Parvati herself on the day of Karwa Chauth.
Goddess Parvati is the main deity of Karwa Chauth. Along with Goddess Parvati, her other family members i.e. husband Lord Shiva and children Lord Kartikeya and Lord Ganesha are also worshipped.
As per Purnimanta calendar followed in North Indian states -
Chaturthi (fourth day) of Kartik (8th lunar month) during Krishna Paksha
As per Amanta Hindu calendar -
Chaturthi (fourth day) of Ashwin (7th lunar month) during Krishna Paksha
Atla Tadde in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana