Sankashti Chaturthi Katha or Story , Sankata Hara Chaturthi Vrat Katha or Story
Once there lived a king by the name of Surasena. On one occasion God Indra the king of Gods was flying over the kingdom of Surasena. People of the kingdom could see the plane and suddenly the plane starts to descend and lands. The king seeing the plane, in curiosity to meet the person aboard on it approaches the plane. The king realizes that the person in the plane is God Indra. The king approaches God Indra, prays to him and enquires him the reason for landing in his Kingdom.
Indra pleased with the kings prayer, tells him that, a person who has done countless sins saw his plane and hence the plane has landed. Indra continues that the plane would fly only if a person who has a lot of virtue would come forward and donate his virtue.
The king prays to Indra to show him a way, through which he can send his soldiers to find a man with lot of virtue. God Indra replies that today is Panchami and yesterday was Bahula Chaturthi or Sankashti Chaturi which is also known as Sankata Hara Chaturthi. God Indra tells the king to find a person who has fasted yesterday and by mere fasting on Sankashti Chaturthi, the person would enmasses limtless virtue and if he could part with the virtue, his plane would fly.
The king orders his soldiers to search for a person who knowingly or unknowingly has fasted on the day before or on Sankashti Chaturthi. As fasting on Sankashti Chaturthi is itself enough to gather a lot of virtue. The soldiers search the whole kingdom and fail to find even a single person. On their way back to palace, the soldiers spot the servants of Lord Ganesha, known as Ganesha Duutas, taking a old woman who died with them.
The soldiers ask the Ganesh Duutas, who they were and where are they taking the woman. Ganesha Duutas explain the soldiers that they were servants of Lord Ganesha and were taking the woman to Swanand Loka the abode of Lord Ganesha. The soldiers were astonished and were curious to know the reason for taking the women to the abode of Lord Ganesha. The Ganesha Duutas, reply that the woman was sleeping yesterday and hence was not able to eat or drink. She died today and because of the fasting had gained so much virtue that she was to be taken to Swanand Loka.
The soldiers request the Ganesha Duutas to give some virtue of the woman, but the Ganesh Duutas refuse.
In the mean time, the plane suddenly starts and everyone is astonished. Lord Indra realizes that the wind that has blown over the old womans dead body has also blown over the plane. This wind gained a virtue just by blowing over the dead body that the wind by just blowing over the plane was able to start it.
The significance of the story is that one would gain virtue that one cannot imagine by simply observing a fast. And if a puja of Lord Ganesha is done, after observing the fast and seeing the moon in the evening, the virtue would increase much more.
Hence most of the devotees observe Sankashti Chaturthi Vrat.