Ahoi Ashtami is a festival celebrated on the 8th day of Krishna Paksha of Kartik month. This festival is celebrated mostly in North India and falls approximately 4 days after Karwa Chauth and 8 days before Deepawali. This year this festival will be celebrated on 15th of October, 2014.
This festival is celebrated in the form of a fast kept by mothers for the well being of their children. This festival is also presumed to mark the beginning of Deepawali, the festival of lights. Mothers who are blessed with sons get up in the morning, like in Karwa Chauth Vrat, and put water in an earthen pot and worship Goddess Ahoi. Mothers don’t eat or drink anything the whole day and in the evening, they offer Puja and Bhog to Mother Ahoi (food comprising Poori, Halwa, Chana etc) and break the fast after seeing the stars.
The difference between the fast of Ahoi Ashtami and Karwa Chauth is that Karwa Chauth Vrat is ended after seeing the Moon whereas the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat is ended after seeing the Stars. Before the Bhog of Mother Ahoi, a story of a mother having 7 sons is also narrated.
Ahoi Ashtami Vrat Katha:
Once there was a wealthy couple who had 7 sons. On one unfortunate day, the lady of the house went to fetch soil for some household work. While digging the soil, her axe accidently killed a Lion’s cub. The Lioness cursed the lady and as a result, the couple lost their 7 sons within a year.
Misery and despair surrounded their home. One fine day as saint was passing by their house; on seeing the distressing condition of the couple he suggested them to perform remorseful acts in a remote area. The couple was desperate to get rid of the curse so they left their home and kept walking into the forest as long as they could.
They performed penance to ask for forgiveness but did not get any result. Depressed and tired, they decided to sacrifice their lives by not eating anything. After 6 days of fasting, they heard a divine voice which told them to worship Goddess Ahoi by keeping a fast on Ashtami. The couple got some consolation and returned back to their home. They observed the fast and worshipped the Goddess as suggested. They were again blessed by 7 sons by Goddess Ahoi.
Since then, mothers in North India keep this Vrat for the wellbeing of their children.