Ahoi Ashtami 2018: Ahoi Ashtami is a day when Hindu women keep a fast for the welfare and long life of their children. Also known as Krishna Ashtami, the festival is celebrated on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha of the Kartik month.
This year, Ahoi Ashtami will be celebrated on October 31.
The festival, also known as Ahoi Aathe, is mainly celebrated by the Banya-Marwari community in North India.
Ahoi Ashtami story
As per the story behind the observance of fast and celebration of the festival, once there lived a king named Chanderbhan. All his children died in early age. One day, he went to a forest along with his wife and decided to die there near Badrika Ashram. The couple stopped eating food and the days went on. One day, a prophet told them that they had committed sins in their past life and those sins were responsible for the suffering in their present life. He advised them to keep fast on Ahoi Ashtami day in the Hindu month of Kartik and seek Goddess Ahoi’s blessings keeping a nirjala (without water) fast.
Both the king and the queen observed the fast with full devotion. As a result, they were blessed with many healthy children in the following years and they happily lived long. Since then, the Ahoi fast became a ritual for Hindu women on the same tithi every year.
Ahoi Ashtami vrat and rituals
Women wake up early in the morning on Ahoi Ashtami day, and take a bath. They paint an image of Ahoi mata with a cub on a clean wall. Many people use readymade picture calendar of Ahoi Ashtami too. Then place a mud or silver pot filled with water and a moli (sacred red thread) tied around the neck of the pot on the left side of the Ahoi image. A glass of water is also kept to be offered to the sun after the puja. A bowl full of wheat grains, and other food stuff such as sugarcane, singhara, chana, sorghum and wheat flour halwa or meethe poore are offered.
At dusk, the story of Ahoi Ashtami is recited in front of the Ahoi Mata image. At the time of reciting the story, a few wheat grains are kept in one hand and they are tied in the same stole, dupatta or saree pallu worn by the women at the time of prayers after the story is over. The glass of water is offered to sun. Once stars rise in the sky, women break their fast after offering the pot water and the wheat grains tied in the saree pallu to the stars. The women then drink water offered by their children, following which they eat satvik food without onion and garlic.
Ahoi Ashtami significance
Believers say childless couples should take a holy dip in ‘Radha Kund’ at Mathura dhaam on this sacred day. They should observe a nirjala fast till stars appear in the sky and follow all rituals religiously. Those who already have children keep this fast in the belief they will be blessed with long and healthy life.
Ahoi Ashtami katha
The famous katha of Ahoi Mata is recited on this day. The story goes like this. Once upon a time, there was a woman who lived in a village with her seven sons. Ahead of the festival of Diwali, the woman decided to renovate her house. She went to a forest to bring soil. When she was digging the soil with an axe near a den, the axe fell on a cub accidentally killing it on the spot. She felt very bad and sorry. She gathered the soil quietly and brought it home with a heavy heart. Within a year, all her seven sons died one by one. The woman went into depression. One day she narrated this story to a group of old women in her village. The village women told her that she had atoned half of her sin by confessing it in front of them. They suggested her to keep Ahoi fast on Ahoi Ashtami day and pray to Goddess Ahoi. The woman did the same for a few years, and was said to have got all her seven sons back.