Ahoi Ashtami is an Indian ceremony honoring the Goddess Ahoi, also known as Ahoi Mata. It is mostly observed in Northern India on ‘Ashtami,’ or the eighth day of the month of Kartik during the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha). This religious holiday takes place four days after Karva Chauth and eight days before Deepawali. However, in the Amanta calendar states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, this event happens in the month of Ashwin.
Significance of Ahoi Ashtami
Ahoi Ashtami is primarily a celebration for mothers who observe the Ahoi Mata Vrat on this day to ensure the well-being of their sons. Originally done primarily for boys, women now observe this fast for the benefit of all their children.
This day is also very meaningful for people who have no children. Women who are having difficulty conceiving or have had a miscarriage should do the Ahoi Mata Vrat to have a baby son. This is why the day is also regarded as ‘Krishnashtami.’ Couples and followers go to Mathura’s sacred site to take the sacred bath in ‘Radha Kunda.’
The genesis of this occasion may be traced back to a mother who had seven sons. She went to the woods to acquire some sand one day. She accidentally murdered a hedgehog cub (Sei) who cursed her while excavating the soil. Following that, all seven of her boys died within a few years. She recognized it was because of the karma of murdering the cub. She fasted for six days and pleaded with Ahoi Mata to bring her sons back. The Goddess, satisfied with her prayers, returned all seven of her boys to her.
- Ahoi Ashtami puja rituals should begin before dusk, with an image of Ahoi Mata painted on the wall. Because Ahoi Mata is associated with Ashtami tithi, her depiction should have eight corners or Ashtha Koshthak.
- A sacred ‘Kalash’ containing water is put to the left of Maa Ahoi’s portrait on a wooden deck, as is a drawing of Sei or cub.
- A Swastik is painted on the ‘Kalash,’ and a holy thread (Moli) is wound around it.
- Rice and Milk are then served to Ahoi Mata, along with Vayna or prepared food such as Poori, Halwa, and Pua. During the Puja, grains such as Jowar or raw food (Seeda) are also presented to Maa Ahoi.
- After the Puja, Ahoi Ashtami Aarti is done.
- In certain areas, Ahoi Mata of silver, called Syau is made and venerated. Following the Puja, it can be worn as a pendant with two silver pearls strung on a string.
- Following the completion of the Puja, ladies from the sacred Kalash present Argha to the stars or the moon, relying on their family customs. They only break their Ahoi Mata Vrat when they see the stars or, when the moon rises.
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