कार्तिक कृष्ण अष्टमी
Ahoi Ashtami vrat is a fasting ritual performed by all Indian mothers for well being of their sons. This vrat falls on the eighth day of dark fortnight in Kartik month as per Hindu calendar. On this day mothers keep fast for the whole day and in the evening they offer sacred water to stars and pray for well being of their sons. Especially people from different parts of North India celebrate this vrat with a few variations,But broadly the following method is followed to observe the fasting and prayer.
All mothers wake up before sunrise, to have some refreshments and proceed to the temple to offer prayers for their children. The fast ends in the evening when the moon appears. Some families also break their fast once they see the stars in the sky.
The picture of Ahoi Mata is painted on a wall and a bowl of water is placed on it. Printed calendars, posters and pictures of Ahoi Mata are now available and can be used in place of the wall painting. An untwisted red colored thread is wrapped around the bowl of water and the edges are smeared with turmeric powder and placed on the left of the picture. Then the story of Ahoi Mata is read out by an elderly lady in the household. All the other women sit down to listen to the story.
The other essentials required for the prayer include grains that are placed in a plate and positioned in the center of the picture. The food offerings include puris, halwa, boiled channa and jowar, etc. Money offerings are also placed before the Mata's picture. Once the reading of the story is done, the sweets and money are distributed among children and elders of the family. Some families also have the tradition of making a garland with silver coins or keepsakes. They keep adding to this garland when a child is born in the family or a son gets married. Every year the Ahoi Mata picture is adorned with this garland and this tradition is passed on to future generations.
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring soil for the renovation and painting of her home (this was in the month of kartik just before the Hindu festival Deepawali). She started digging soil with axe nearby a den. Suddenly the woman's axe fell on the cub in the den and the cub died. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic. She took soil from the forest and came back.
Few days later, all her seven sons died within a year. She was very sad. One day she narrated her woes to old ladies in her village . she was crying and told them that she didn't commit the sin and it happened unintentionally. She narrated to the ladies that once when she was digging for the soil in the forest her axe fell on the cub and thereafter within a year all my seven sons died. The ladies appreciated for confessing her guilt and then these ladies told that by confessing the sin she has atoned her half of the sin. They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ashtami Bhagwati by sketching the face of the cub. By the grace of god your sin will cast off. The woman kept fast on the Kartik Krishna Ashtami and then onwards she started praying and keeping fast regularly. By the power of her prayer the God's grace showered and she could get back her all seven son. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati religiously every year.