Vrata is a religious votive rite, a vow often involving abstinence from food, particularly common with women.It may be accompanied with elaborate prayers, other rites such as charity or visit to a temple, sometimes observed during festivals or with sanskara (rite of passage) ceremonies. It is found in ancient Hindu texts such as the Vedas, but in a fluid context that is not in the sense of pious observances
The Hindu Upanishads conceptualize Vrata as an ethical and behavioral discipline process, one where food is respected, the needy helped, the stranger welcomed, the student carries on the pursuit of knowledge.The Puranas link the practice to the empowering concept of Shakti of a woman, while the Dharmasastras link the practice to one possible form of penance through the concept of Prāyaścitta for both men and women.
A Vrata may be motivated by many factors and is observed by both genders, but far more often by women.The most common are temporal wishes, such as the speedy recovery of a sick child, success or happiness for a loved one, fertility, ward off negativity or dangers, make prayers and good wishes for someone departing for a distant place.In the case of women, the prayers are usually on behalf of brother(s), children or husband, but sometimes for her own prosperity, mind-body balance and health.
A Vrata is sometimes a result of voluntary vow or part of practice by a brahmacharya (student) or grihastha (householders) that they feel as obligatory before or during certain spiritual or religious practice.Utsavas, or religious festivals, share some elements with vratas, incorporating the practice of restraining food and similar austerity, as a part of the festive observance.Some Vrats are for religious (dharma) or soteriological goals (moksha), some are for nonreligious reasons, some celebration of one's cultural tradition, and others are a form of quid pro quo sacrifice to get or give divine help to someone.
Another reason for observing Vratas is the belief that they are a form of sorry, self-correction, penance and expiatory (prāyaścitta).Vratas are discussed as a means to prāyaścitta in Dharmasastra texts.Many prāyaścitta vratas in these texts suggest it include the feeding of "Brahmins, blind, poor and helpless", as well as other acts of charity.However, a Vrata can consist of many different activities. Other examples of Vrata activity include fasting, burning incense sticks, prayers before a deity, meditating and such activities.The śmrtis go into great detail on the subject of vratas, discussing even the details pertaining to what type of flowers should be used in worship.
The art of performing a Puja or a Ritual at Hindu households has always remained a matter of concern unless you have a "Family Pandit".