ahoi ashtami vrat also called as ahoi aathe is kept by mothers for the well being of their sons. it is more popular in north india.
just as karwa chauth fast is kept for the well being of husband. ahoi ashtami vrat is kept by mother for the well being of their sons. for some people it can look little hypocritical as importance is not given to daughters or to wife. the reason is that in old times, women used to stay at home and it was safe. but life of men was in danger because of wars, invasion or there was danger from wild animals, bandits, insects and working in difficult situation like forests or crossing a river etc. life was not so safe and secure like today. so over a period of time, karwa chauth and ahoi ashtami vrat must have come into practice.
nowadays many women observe this fast for their daughter also. just as nowadays many men keep karwa chauth fast for their wife also. for ahoi mata every child is same. real mother never discriminates the child on the basis of gender. so observe this fast for your daughter as well as for your son. i know few mothers who keep this fast for daughters also.
ahoi ashtami fasting day falls approximately 4 days after karwa chauth and 8 days before diwali puja. this year ahoi mata fast is on 3rd november, 2015. pooja muhurat timing is 17:57 to 19:13 (duration = 1 hour 16 mins).
just like karwa chauth this fast is also very rigorous and whole day food and water is not taken. so on this day, mother observe fast all day and offer prayers to ahoi mata for the well being of their children.
how to observe ahoi ashtami fast or vrat:
1. mother wake up before sunrise, take bath before the sun rise or when stars are still in the sky (taaron ki chawan main, means as long as stars are there in the sky). then they have food just like sargai is taken in karwa chauth fast. they can eat a filling diet and drink lot of water. but they should have something sweet also like seviyan. eat well and drink lot of water because till stars appear in the sky in the evening and you offer arg to the stars, you won’t be able to eat or drink.
2. onions and garlic are not eaten on this day.
3. don’t touch mud or sand on this day.
4. during day time mother can visit nearby temple to offer prayers to goddess or they can remember the goddess ahoi at home for the well being of their children. do your household work and side by side remember goddess.
ahoi mata vrat pooja vidhi or procedure:
1. many women draw the ahoi mata picture in the wall for the worship. nowadays many mother buy ready made calender for this purpose also. many calenders have ahoi mata photo as well as katha/story written on it. write the name of your children in the calendar. back home, my mother write the name with black pen. some people write the name with red pen. in old times, back side of tawa/skillet was used to write the name. because when you burn wood to cook food, then the back side of tawa gets blackened and can be used to write names.
2. you can make sooji halwa during afternoon or before the pooja.
3. keep 2 small matki (pots) in front of ahoi mata. fill first matki with wheat grain and second matki with water and also add some sabut rice (not toota or broken rice) + sugar in the second matki. also keep mooli/radish with leaves/patta, singhara and sugarcane with leaves. if you get sugarcane then it should have leaves. if u don’t get sugarcane then skip it.
main emphasis is given to sabut/complete things. thats why radish and sugarcane should have leaves. also on this day you should only cook sabut dals or rajma etc. don’t cook broken rice or split dals.
4. in the evening worship of goddess ahoi can be done around 4 pm or 5 pm. but don’t do it at 3:45 pm or 4:45 pm. because they are considered to be incomplete timing.
5. from whole wheat flour (atta) make a diya, add some ghee in it and burn the diya in front of ahoi mata photo or calender. also burn dhoop or incense.
7. on this day ghee is not applied on rotis/chappati. rotis are kept dry. some people make poori halwa on this day. make as many phulka as the number of members in your family. e.g. if you have one daughter and one son then make 4 rotis (one for you, one for your husband and 2 for children). mother in law should count their daughter in law and their children also.
apart from this make 2 rotis for your housemaid and 2 for panditani (priestess). keep all these rotis or pooris in front of ahoi mata photo.
8. put tilak on ahoi mata photo. take 7 grains of wheat in your hand while listening ahoi mata vrat katha. the katha can be read by an elderly lady or panditani (priestess) and listened by all mothers. you can read it yourself also.
9. do the ahoi mata worship and pray to her for the well being of your children. do it intensely and with the depth of your heart. goddess always listen to the prayers done with sincerity and purity.
in some punjabi families, mother take the name of their child and the child in turn knock the latch of the doors. then mother calls the child close to her. if the child stays else where then during evening time he or she can give a phone call to the mother.
10. after the ahoi mata worship, mother can take blessings from the elderly members of the family also by touching their feet. a saree or suit piece or dry fruits are given to mother in law. for this, keep the thing which you want to give to your mother in law in a plate. take water in the pot. take your name and gotra and say that i am giving ‘bayna’ to my mother in law and sprinkle water in a circle around the thali.
11. after the pooja, keep the share of panditani and housemaid separate (mooli, singhara, sugarcane, halwa, 4 rotis/pooris). if you like then you can give some money also as per your capacity.
12. once the evening pooja is done, mother wait for stars to appear in the sky. once the stars appear in the sky then take sooji halwa and water pot (matki) which you have kept during pooja. cover the head with chunri, remove sleepers and offer arg 7 times to stars in form of halwa and water. so seven times some pieces of halwa is offered while looking at the stars and 7 times water is offered/thrown looking at stars.
then after seeing the stars mother can break the fast by eating halwa (eat it first as it is sweet) and then drink water.
faq about ahoi mata vrat vidhi:
1. the wheat grain which you have kept while doing pooja should be offered to cow or to the nearby temple.
2. the remaining water which was left after offering arg to stars after evening pooja should be kept. offer this water to moon second day after diwali. it is believed that it increases wealth.
3. give the rotis, singhara, halwa etc and other things which you have kept aside to panditani and housemaid.
4. radish you can eat yourself or give to house maid or priestess. in old times, it was given to kumhar (potter)
5. only married women keep this fast. if you are married and don’t have child then you can still keep this fast in the hope or faith that ahoi mother will bless you with a child.
6. don’t touch the mud or sand on this day.
7. take care about cooking complete things only like sabut dals or sabut rice. don’t make halwa or do pooja around 3:45 or 4:45 pm. 4 pm or 5 pm or 6pm are better time.
8. don’t eat onion and garlic. use jeera/cumin and hing/aesfoedita for tadka/tempering.
9. main thing in religious fast is your sincerity and devotion. in case you break any rules unknowingly then don’t worry or feel guilty. instead focus your attention on remembering goddess.
disclaimer – the post carries information best to my knowledge. i have collected information from my mother who is keeping this fast for a long time. she has further learned the vrat vidhi from her mother in law. this is how the fast is observed in punjabi families.