Mothers observe the Ahoi Ashtami fast for their children’s wellbeing four days after the strenuous Karwa Chauth vrat. Similar to the Karwa Chauth fast, the Ahoi Ashtami fast is observed without food or drink from sunrise to sunset, and it is broken upon stargazing. After a moon sighting, the fast is broken in some families. The festival is widely celebrated in North India with great zeal and enthusiasm, falling about eight days before Diwali.
The modern Ahoi Ashtami vrat is kept for both son and daughter, although in the past it was kept for the longevity and well-being of sons. On this day, worshippers honour Goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati, who is the reincarnation of Goddess Parvati, and receive her blessings.
Here’s a list of rituals performed at Ahoi Ashtami:
1. Ahoi Bhagwati Mata is customarily drawn in red on a wall of the home for Ahoi Ashtami puja. As an alternative, the mandir or puja area can house an idol or picture of the goddess.
2. Ahoi Maata can also be embroidered on a piece of fabric and hung on the wall. There are symbols of the moon, sun, stars, and holy basil all around the picture or idol.
3. Following the puja, prasad is given out and the Ahoi Vrat Katha is read. An Ahoi Mata image must feature a lion and small children in addition to having Ashtha Koshthak, or eight corners.
4. At the site of worship, there is also a water-filled Karwa and Kalash. Ahoi Mata is offered a garland of silver beads for puja, roli, kumkum, mouli, and chandan.
5. Grain offerings are made, along with prasad consisting of puri, halwa, and chana. There should be eight different food items.