Kartik Month’s Ahoi Ashtami Vrat: A Pious Ritual for the Welfare of Children
Ahoi Ashtami, observed during the waning phase of the moon in the month of Kartik, is a significant Hindu fasting day. On this day, mothers observe a rigorous fast to pray for the longevity, prosperity, and well-being of their children. Much like Karwa Chauth, Ahoi Ashtami is a Nirjala Vrat, meaning fasting without water. The day begins with an early morning bath, and the fast commences.
As per tradition, the evening sky, specifically sighting the stars, marks the beginning of the Ahoi Ashtami Puja. Women dedicate this day to worshipping Ahoi Mata. Ahoi Mata is regarded as a manifestation of Goddess Parvati. It is believed that by observing the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat, mothers can overcome problems related to conceiving or challenges in childbearing.
Following a day of fasting, in the evening, women create an image of Ahoi Mata with eight corners on a wall, typically with colored rangoli. The image is then colored beautifully. Additionally, depictions of Sei, symbolic of Ahoi Mata, and her children are created. Alternatively, a printed image of Ahoi Mata can be sourced from the market to be placed in the designated area for the puja.
Here’s how to perform the Ahoi Mata Puja:
- The Ahoi Ashtami Puja commences after sunset, following the sighting of stars. It is essential to purify the place of worship by sprinkling water and placing a pitcher (Kalash) filled with water on a pedestal, similar to the traditional Kalash setup for other pujas.
- The Ahoi Mata image is adorned with turmeric, rice, and vermilion. Sow seeds or grains like wheat in front of the image.
- While reciting the story of Ahoi Mata, offer vermillion, rice, sweets, and milk to the goddess as part of the puja.
- An important aspect of this vrat is a seven-grain mix called Satya, which includes wheat, gram, barley, petha, millets, a type of bean, and a wild variety of rice. This mix is placed near the Ahoi Mata image.
- The story of Ahoi Mata is narrated while holding a garland of beads or a coin necklace (syau) around the neck. This mala or necklace is usually worn during the storytelling.
- Offer food as prasad to Ahoi Mata, which typically includes halwa and coins as a symbol of the vrat’s completion.
- The puja concludes with an arghya (offering) to the moon, followed by a modest dinner.
The observance of the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is believed to appease Ahoi Mata, who bestows her blessings upon mothers, granting them the ability to seek the longevity and well-being of their children. It is a ritual filled with devotion and prayers, symbolizing the deep bond between mothers and their offspring.
Preparing a Silver Ahoi for the Puja
To prepare for the puja, mothers often get a silver Ahoi, also known as a Sei, created. This silver icon usually has grains or pearls (moti) embedded in it, similar to how pendants are worn around the neck. It symbolizes Ahoi Mata’s blessings and is an integral part of the puja.
Auspicious Timing for the Puja
Renowned astrologer Pandit Anil Kumar Pandey suggests that Ahoi Ashtami falls on the 5th of November this year, starting at 1:25 AM and concluding on the 6th of November at 3:13 AM. The ideal time for the puja is in the evening, between 5:42 PM and 7:00 PM.
By observing the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat and performing the puja with devotion, mothers seek the blessings of Goddess Ahoi Mata for the welfare and longevity of their children, making this ritual a cherished tradition in many households.
India is renowned worldwide for its unique culture and traditions. The country is a land of festivals, and these celebrations serve as a means to pass on our values and Vedic traditions to the present generation. One such festival is Ahoi Ashtami, during which all mothers observe a fast for the long life and well-being of their children.
In ancient times, there was a wealthy man who had seven sons and seven daughters-in-law. This man also had a daughter who had come to her parents’ house during the festival of Diwali. On Diwali, the daughters-in-law went to the jungle to fetch mud for the ritual. Coincidentally, the daughter of the wealthy man and her sisters-in-law ventured into the forest. While digging the soil, the wealthy man’s daughter accidentally killed a young animal with her spade.
Upon realizing this, the wealthy man’s daughter was overcome with remorse, and her sisters-in-law urged her to get a replacement for the slain creature. The youngest sister-in-law willingly offered to bear the consequences and decided to sacrifice herself to save the life of the animal. After seven days, all of the youngest sister-in-law’s sons died.
Distraught by these tragic events, the wealthy man’s daughter sought the advice of a sage. The sage advised her to serve a Surahi (female pig) to atone for her actions. The Surahi was pleased with the service and took the youngest sister-in-law with her to meet Syahu, a legendary figure. Syahu blessed the youngest sister-in-law with seven sons, and her household was filled with prosperity.
The story of Ahoi Ashtami can be interpreted as turning the impossible into possible, as demonstrated by the youngest sister-in-law’s sacrifice.
According to folklore, there was once a woman who lived in a village with her seven sons. One day, during the Kartik month, she went to the forest with her sons to collect clay. While there, she accidentally killed a young animal with her spade.
As a result of this incident, her seven sons succumbed to death one by one. Grief-stricken by these events, she shared her story with the women of the village. An elderly woman suggested that she should observe the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat, a ritual fast on the eighth day of the waning moon in the Kartik month.
The woman created an image of Ahoi Mata, adorned with a picture of her youngest son who had died in her care, and began to worship it. She observed the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat for seven years, and at the end of it, all her seven sons were miraculously revived.
The importance of the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is well understood. Now, let’s delve into how this fast is observed.
Ahoi Ashtami Vrat Ritual:
In North India, particularly in states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and others, the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is observed as follows:
- Early morning, before sunrise, individuals take a bath and consume some fruits.
- People visit temples or perform the Ahoi Ashtami Puja at home.
- The entire day is observed as a Nirjala Vrat, which means fasting without water.
- In the evening, mothers and their children sit together to perform the Ahoi Ashtami Mata Puja.
- They create an image of Ahoi Mata on the wall and place a calendar of Ahoi Ashtami alongside it.
- After sighting the stars in the evening, they break their fast by offering water and food to the stars.
Ahoi Ashtami Puja Materials:
- Rice, vermillion, and a calendar or image of Ahoi Ashtami Mata are required for the puja.
The Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is a cherished tradition, emphasizing the deep bond between mothers and their children, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of India.