Ahoi Ashtami is celebrated on the eighth day of the waning phase of the moon during the month of Kartik i.e. eight days before Diwali and four days after Karwa Chauth. This year Ahoi Ashtami is on November 8, 2020, Sunday.
Significance of Ahoi Ashtami fast
This is a day-long fast observed by mothers for the welfare and long life of their children. Women worship Ahoi Mata who is considered as Goddess Parvati who appears as Ahoi Mata to bless the children of the world.
Women who suffer regular miscarriage or who are unfortunate to have delivered dead babies should observe this fast with complete devotion to be blessed with healthy children. This day is also observed as the Krishna Ashtami, thus the significance of fasting for child by the childless couples is double folded. The childless couples should perform Ladoo Gopal Homa on this day to get blessings of Krishna for children.
Ahoi Ashtami is mostly celebrated in Northern parts of India and Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The main aspect of Ahoi Ashtami is worshipping Goddess Ahoi and fasting from morning till evening or night as per family traditions.
Womenfolk wake up early in the morning and after taking a bath they take Sankalp or an oath to remain without food or water till they see stars or moon in the night sky. Women prepare sweets like halwa, pua, mathi etc.at home before worshipping in the evening.
In the evening they clean the house and draw Ahoi Mata on a wall with geru or people get an embroidery of Mata Ahoi on a cloth and use it year after year. The Ahoi is made of Ashta Koshtak i.e. eight-cornered figure representing the eighth-day. The picturecontains Ahoi Mata with children, cubs of lions, children of porcupine, cow, birds, Gardner etc. representing all kinds of people, animals, and birds. People buy readymade calendars too.
Wheat flour is kept on a plate and diya is lighted in front of the picture of Ahoi Mata. People read Katha of Ahoi Mata and do the Arti. The sweets offered to Ahoi Mata are given to a Brahmin and some of it is given to the children at home. Some people also offer radish and sugar canes.
Ahoi Ashtami Katha
Once there was a money lender. He had seven sons and a daughter. All the sons were married. Once the daughters-in-law of the moneylender along with his daughter went to the forest to fetch some mud to clean their house. The women started digging the soil, suddenly a child of the porcupine was killed by the daughter by mistake. When the mother porcupine came to know about the death of her baby she cursed the daughter of the moneylender and decided to tie the womb of the daughter so that she too would not have any baby. The daughter was scared, she asked her sisters-in-law to get their womb tied but they refused but for the youngest Bhabhi. She readily got her womb cursed.
Soon her sons died and she was depressed. Every year during festivities she would cry loudly for her children. One day an elder woman of the village suggested the youngest daughter-in-law of the lender to serve the holy cow who was the friend of mother porcupine.
The daughter-in-law started going to the service of the holy cow. She used to clean her place before her waking. The holy cow was surprised, that who was serving her so well. She decided to wake up early and see who was serving her. The holy cow saw the daughter-in-law of the lender and asked her why was she there to serve her. Then the daughter-in-law narrated the whole story to the cow and the cow decided to help her.
The holy cow took her to the mother porcupine, who was having acute irritation on her back and head due to lice. The holy cow asked the daughter-in-law to remove the lice from the body of the mother porcupine. The daughter-in-law did as was told and provided her relief. The mother porcupine then asked the daughter-in-law for some gift. She narrated her story and told her to untie her womb so that she too could have children. The mother porcupine was surprised. She said that she would have never released her womb had she not provided her relief from the lice and also because she had served her friend the holy cow. She then untied her womb. The daughter-in-law became very happy. Soon she had a son and she too celebrated festivities like the rest of her family.
So, the women pray to the mother porcupine and goddess Parvati to look after their children and bless them with good health and long life.
Thus, all women with children and women wishing for children should worship Ahoi Devi on Ahoi Ashtami and observe fast, if possible, for the long age and successful life of their children. Jai Ahoi Mata.