Ahoi Ashtami on Thursday, October 28, 2021
Ahoi Ashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated about 8 days before Diwali on Krishna Paksha Ashtami. According to the Purnimant calendar followed in North India, it falls during the month of Kartik and according to the Amanta calendar followed in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and other southern states, it falls during the month of Ashvin.
The fasting and puja on Ahoi Ashtami are dedicated to Goddess Ahoi. She is worshiped by mothers for the well-being and long life of their children. This day is also known as Ahoi Aathe because fasting for Ahoi Ashtami is done during Ashtami Tithi which is the eighth day of the lunar month. Ahoi Mata is none other than Goddess Parvati.
Rituals during Ahoi Ashtami:
On Ahoi Ashtami, the mother of the boy observes a strict fast all through the day for their child’s well-being. They spend the day even without drinking a drop of water. The fast is broken after sighting the stars, during twilight. In some places, the observer of the Ahoi Ashtami fast break their fast after sighting the moon, however, it might be difficult as the moon rises late on the Ahoi Ashtami night.
Women get up early and take a bath. Following this, they take a ‘Sankalp that is a pledge to keep the fast for the whole day for their children’s well-being. The preparations for the puja are done before the sunset.
Women draw the image of Ahoi Mata on a wall. The image drawn should have ‘Ashtha Koshthak’ or eight corners. Along with other images, the picture of ‘Sei’ (hedgehog with its children) is drawn close to Goddess Ahoi. If the image cannot be drawn then the wallpaper of Ahoi Ashtami can also be used. The image also depicts the seven sons with the daughters-in-law as mentioned in the Ahoi Ashtami Katha.
The place of worship is cleaned and an ‘Alpana’ is drawn. An earthen pot known as ‘karwa’ is filled with water and covered with a lid and kept near the place of worship. The nozzle of this karwa is blocked with a special grass known as ‘Sarai Seenka’. This shoot of grass is also offered to Ahoi Mata during the puja rituals.
The actual puja of Ahoi Ashtami is performed during sandhya time, that is, just after sunset. All the women in the family get together for the puja. After the rituals, the women listen to the Ahoi Mata vrat Katha. In some communities, the devotees use Ahoi made from silver. This silver form is known as ‘Syau’ and is worshipped with milk, roli, and akshata during the puja. After the puja, this ‘Syau’ is woven in a thread with two silver pearls and worn by women around their neck.
Special food offerings are prepared that include puri, halwa, and pua. 8 of all these are offered to the Goddess and then given to some elderly lady or even a Brahmin. The puja is terminated by performing the ‘Ahoi Mata aarti’ at the end.