नास्ति मातृसमा छाया नास्ति मातृसमा गतिः।
नास्ति मातृसमं त्राणं नास्ति मातृसमा प्रपा ।।
nāsti mātṛsamā chāyā nāsti mātṛsamā gatiḥ।
nāsti mātṛsamaṃ trāṇaṃ nāsti mātṛsamā prapā ।।
माता के समान कोई छाया नहीं, कोई आश्रय नहीं, कोई सुरक्षा नहीं। माता के समान इस विश्व में कोई जीवनदाता नहीं॥
There is no shade like a mother, no resort-like a mother, no security like a mother, no other ever-giving fountain of life!!!
Indian Hindu mothers are always inscrutable beings to their sons and sons are always “Mama’s Boy” irrespective of son’s age. Not to mention, Mothers not only keep their sons in all their prayers but also fast for their well-being, progress, and prosperity, And, the most conspicuously momentous is the “Maa Ahoi Ashtami” Festival.
Ahoi Ashtami festival is observed on the Ashtami Tithi (Eighth Day) of the Krishna Paksha of Kartik Mass (the Hindu month of Kartik). As the festival falls on the eighth day of the month on the Ashtami Tithi, the festival is also known as “Ahoi Aathe“.
It mostly falls in October or November, according to the Gregorian calendar. “Maa Ahoi Ashtami” festival generally comes 4 days after “Karwa Chauth” and 5 days before “Diwali”.
On “Ahoi Ashtami” festival, Hindu mothers used to fast from dawn to dusk for the well-being of their sons, However, as a child, I remember that my mom always kept the fast for all her children including my sister as “For any mother having a daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has given to her“. I will be right If I would say here that “Words are not enough to express the unconditional love that exists between a mother and a daughter”.
Ahoi Ashtami festival Fast is broken during twilight after sighting stars in the sky. However, some Hindu mothers break the fast after sighting the moon.
Where is Ahoi Ashtami Festival Celebrated
Ahoi Ashtami is celebrated in the Northern States of Punjab, Haryana, New Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Western Parts of Uttar Pradesh, and some parts of Rajasthan.
Ahoi Ashtami Festival Process
The fasting and puja done on Ahoi Ashtami are dedicated to Mata Ahoi or Goddess Ahoi. She is worshiped by the Hindu mothers for the well-being and long life of their sons. Hindu mothers observe strict fasting after seeing the early morning moon around 4 AM and the fast is broken only after seeing the stars at night. They also abstain from water throughout the day.
While observing the day-long fast, women wake up before sunrise, bathe and have some refreshments called “Sargi”, before visiting the temple to offer their prayers. They take a `Sankalp’(pledge) to keep the fast without drinking water or eating food for the well-being of their sons. Then they start their fast till the stars are sighted in the evening. As some Hindu mothers also sight the moon, if the fast is kept till moonrise.
In the evening, before the sun sets, preparations for the `puja’ are done. Traditionally, an Ashtakoshtak (eight-edged) image of Ahoi Mata or Ahoi Bhagwati and a lion cub with Geru (orange soil) on a wall is painted. However, these days, a calendar of the Maa Ahoi is used for performing the puja.
A bowl (preferably earthen) of water is placed on the left side of the calendar where a thread dipped in vermilion is tied around the bowl (making sure it doesn’t get twisted while tying) and its ends are dipped in turmeric. A Naivedyam plate (Offer of Halwa, Puri, Channa, Jowar) is placed before the Maa Ahoi calendar along with some money/coins. Also, Sandal-Paste (Gandham), Flowers (Pushpam), Incense Stick (Dhoop Bhatti) are all offered to Ahoi Mata.
It has also been observed that some mothers keep a traditional garland made of silver or gold coins, belonging to generations of that family, in front of the Maa Ahoi, while performing the puja. Whenever a new member is added to the family, a coin is added to the garland. This same garland is used every year for the Ahoi Ashtami puja.
An elderly lady of the family or Pujari Ji of Temple reads out the “Vrata Katha (Fast story)” of Ahoi Mata, while the other women listen. After the” Vrata Katha (Fast Story)”’ finishes, the food and coins placed before the deity is distributed to the sons in the house.
Although the Ahoi Ashtami festival is observed by Hindu mothers for their sons, however, the festival is also celebrated by women who wish to have a son. These Hindu women also keep fast and pray to Ahoi Mata for her blessings.
Ahoi Ashtami Fast (Vrata) Story
Ahoi Ashtami Fast has many stories which are related to its observance and one of them is told just after the puja is done, as part of the ritual.
Hindu scriptures have mentioned that during the time of Ahoi Ashtami’s fast and worship, women must listen to the story of the moneylender family.
On this day, mothers fast for their son’s longevity and prosperous life. After listening to the story of Ahoi Ashtami in the evening and offering water to the stars marks the completion of the fast.
The story is as follow: –
Once upon a time, there lived a moneylender who had seven sons. Just a few days before Diwali festivities in the month of Kartik, the moneylender’s wife decided to repair and decorate their house for Diwali celebrations.
To renovate her house, she decided to go to the forest to fetch some soil. So. In the morning, his wife went to the forest to fetch some clay/mud. As she tilled the land with a sharp tool, she accidentally killed a young lioness’ cub. And out of sheer grief, the animal cursed the woman and said that she will lose all her children and experience the same grief of separation.
The animal’s curse turned out to be true, and the woman lost all her sons.
One day, the man and his wife, set out on a pilgrimage to seek forgiveness for the sin that was unknowingly committed. They kept walking till they were unable to and fell unconscious on the ground. On seeing this, God feels pitiful for them and makes an “Akash Vani” Divine Prophecy that asked them to worship a holy cow and pray to Ahoi Mata for her blessings. Subsequently, Landlord’s wife observed fast and performed Goddess Ahoi fast on the day of the Ashtami. She honestly repented for the sin which she had committed. Goddess Ahoi got pleased with her devotion and honesty and appeared before her and blessed her with fertility. And she was soon blessed with a child.
After the Story (Katha), Ahoi Mata aarti is performed.
After Arti, Mothers wait for the Start to appear in the Sky in the evening. After the water to the star, it marks the completion of the fast.
A Tribute to a Mother “There Ought To Be A Hall of Fame For Mamas, Creation’s Most Unique, And Precious Pearls. And Heaven Help Us Always To Remember That the Hand That Rocks The Cradle Rules the World.”
I WISH ALL HINDU MOTHERS ESPECIALLY “THE MILITARY MOTHERS WHOSE SONS ARE SERVING THE MOTHER INDIA” A VERY HAPPY, PROSPEROUS, AND BLISSFUL “AHOI ASHTAMI”.
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