On Ahoi Ashtami, traditionally, mothers used to observe fast from morning to evening for the welfare of their sons. However, in the present day, the fast is observed for the welfare of all children including sons as well as daughters. Fast that begins in the dawn is broken during twilight after seeing stars in the sky. Some women break the fast after seeing the moon, however it is difficult to follow this because on Ahoi Ashtami, the moon rises late in the night.
The day of Ahoi Ashtami fasting occurs approximately eight days before Diwali Puja and four days after Karwa Chauth. Both Karwa Chauth and Ahoi Ashtami are more popular in North India. Ahoi Ashtami is also known as Ahoi Aathe because the fasting is done on Ashtami Tithi, which is the eighth day of the month.
Fasting is strict in Ahoi Ashtami when the women devotees abstain from food and even water throughout the day till they sight the stars and break the fast.
Ahoi Ashtami Fast Tale One:
There was once a woman in a village. She had seven children. One day she went into the forest to bring mud for the repairing her house (it was in the month of kartik just before the Hindu Deepawali festival). She began digging the ground with an axe near a den. Suddenly the woman’s axe skids from her hand and fell on the cub inside the den and the cub dies. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic. She took soil from the forest and came back.
A few days later, the seven of his children died within a year. She was very sad. One day, she told her misery to the old womans in the vilage, she cried and told them that she had not committed any sin and occurred involuntarily. She told the ladies that once she was digging the ground in the woods, her axe had fallen on the puppy and after a year all my seven children died. The ladies appreciated for confessing her guilt and then these ladies told that by confessing the sin she has atoned her half of the sin.
They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ashtami Bhagwati by sketching the face of the cub. By the grace of god your sin will cast off. The woman kept fast on the Kartik Krishna Ashtami and then onwards she started praying and keeping fast regularly. By the power of her prayer the God’s grace showered and she could get back her all seven son. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati religiously every year.
Ahoi Ashtami Fast Tale Two:
The story of Siau mata (mother fox) is told by one of the women to everyone;
Once upon time their was a potter family. They had two brothers, whose families lived in one house. One day, the younger brother asked his wife to dig up and bring clay pots for a pre-Diwali market. While digging, she accidentally killed 7 baby foxes with her spade. Their mother came out, very angry. She laid a curse on the potter family “your family will die, because you have killed mine”. The woman cried, asking the foxes forgiveness, “I will do anything you want, but please spare my family”. The fox said, “you will have to give me seven of your children, as they are born, as a compensation”. The woman agreed and returned home feeling very sad.
Following this incident, whenever she had a child, she took it and gave it to the mother fox. Every year on Hoi Ashtami, all other women of the house celebrated and everyone was happy, except her. One day, a sage came to their house and told her that if she prayed to Hoi mata with full devotion, she may be able to reverse the curse pt upon her by the fox. The next year, the woman fasted and prayed with complete devotion. Hoi mata was pleased. She requested the mother fox to return the woman’s children, “she has suffered enough”. Fox agreed and returned the woman’s children. Her family was complete. Once again her home was filled with the noise and laughter of children.
Women finish the story saying, “O Hoi mata, look after my children, as you looked after hers”.
Ahoi Puja, or Ahoi Ashtami Vrat, is observed by mothers on the eighth day during the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of Kartik month in North India. Puja and fasting dedicated to Ahoi Mata is the main observance on the day, which falls before Diwali. The fast begins at sunrise and ends with the sighting of moon or star. Here is a simple step by step guide to how to observe Ahoi Vrat.
Ahoi Ashtami Vrat Method:
* The fasting is from morning to sighting of moon or stars in the night sky.
* Mothers wake up before sunrise, and have some refreshment.
* Then proceed to the temple to offer prayers for their children.
* After the morning prayers, mothers do their normal work.
* Most women in the neighborhood gather for the puja in the afternoon or an hour or so before sunset for the Ahoi Puja.
* A painting of Ahoi mata is made on the wall or a picture or idol is placed in the Puja room.
* Water in a pitcher or bowl or jug is placed on the left of the picture of Ahoi mata.An untwisted red colored thread is wrapped around the bowl of water and the edges are smeared with turmeric and kumkum powder.
* Locally available Grains are placed on a tray or plate and are kept in front of the picture of Ahoi mata.
* Prasad or food offerings that are made are also placed in front of the idol. The Prasad made include pooris, halwa, sweets, boiled channa or jowar.
* Some people also place the money intended to be distributed before the photo of Ahoi Mata. The money is given to children or the poor after the puja.
* There is also an important tradition of making garland using coins or currency notes by some families. Some people make garland using something very unique that is found in the region or something that is important to the family. Some families also have the tradition of making a garland with silver coins or small silver balls. They keep adding to this garland when a child is born in the family or a son gets married. Every year the Ahoi Mata picture is adorned with this garland and this tradition is passed on to future generations. Some people make a new garland each year; others make a new garland if something highly auspicious happened in the family during the year.
* Once all the puja items are ready, women listen to the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat katha from an elderly lady. Those mothers doing the puja either listen to the story on audio or CD or read the story.
* Once the star or moon is spotted, an aarti is performed before the portrait of Ahoi Mata. Women pray for a couple of minutes or mediate before Ahoi Mata. They pray for the well being and long life of their children.
* The fast is broken by eating some Prasad. The Prasad is also shared with family members, children and neighbours.
Shree Ahoi Mata JiKi Aarti Lyrics:
Jai Ahoi Mata Jai Ahoi Mata.
Tumko Nisdin Dhyavat Hari Vishnu Dhaata
Brahmani Rudrani Kamla Tu He Hai Jag Daata.
Surya Chandrama Dhyavat Narad Rishi Gaata
Mata Roop Niranjan Sukh Sampatti Daata.
Jo Koi Tumko Dhyavat Nit Mangal Paata.
Tu He Hai Pataal Basanti Tu He Hai Sukh Daata.
Karma Prabhav Prakashak Jagniddhi Se Traata.
Jis Ghar Tharo Vaas Wahi Mein Gunna Aata.
Kar Na Sake Soi Kar Le Mann Nahi Ghabraata
Tum Bin Sukh Na Hovay Putra Na Koi Paata.
Khan-Paan Ka Vaibhav Tum Bin Nahi Aata
Subh Gun Sundar Yukta Sheer Niddhi Jaata.
Ratan Chaturdarsh Tokun Koi Nahi Paata
Shree Ahoi Ma Ki Aarti Jo Koi Gaata.
Ur Umang Atti Upjay Paap Uttar Jaata