About Ahoi Ashtami Vrata

Well-being of children, Goddess Ahoi, When Ahoi Vrata celebrated, Karvachauth
  • Know all about Ahoi Ashtami Vrata i.e. solemnised for the wellbeing of children.

Avrata is meant to purify the body, the mind and the soul through self-discipline and moral restraints. It generates psychic powers, conducive to spiritual growth and the fulfillment of worldly desires. According to the Yoga-Yajnavalakya, it is holding fast to the spiritual means in order to attain virtue and realise the self.


Hindu women observe a number of vratas for their own welfare or that of their kin- Vata Savitri, Haritalika and Karvachauth for wedded bliss; Bhratri panchami and Bhratri dvitiya for the protection of brothers; Mahalakshmi vrata for prosperity and safety; Sankashtha chaturthi for avoiding any future calamity and Navaratras for divine grace.  


This article was first published in Bhavan’s Journal.


Among the long list of vratas, ‘Ahoi ashtami’ (also called Ahoi Athe) is solemnised for the wellbeing of children, and for a happy family life. Married women who are childless or who do not have a male child, also worship her, adding specific mantras into their daily spiritual practice.


The infinite being is said to have an infinite number of Shaktis. Ahoi (Hoi) Mata is a benign form of Shakti, equated with the mother goddesses like Brahmani (embodying the power of god Brahma); Vaishnavi (embodying the power of Vishnu), and Maheshwari (embodying the power of Shiva). She is propitiated by a vast majority of Hindu mothers, mostly in north India, on Kartika Krishna Ashtami, the 8th day in the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month, Kartika (October-November). In western and southern parts of India, she is worshipped in Ashvin (September-October), the month preceding Kartika, in which the festival of Diwali falls.


As a part of the primal force of life, Goddess Ahoi inspires faith, grants boons, and ensures protection to the devout.



The most popular story about Ahoi ashtami vrata is that of a mother of seven sons who accidentally caused the death of the little ones of sehi (syahu), an animal with sharp spikes on its back, while digging the soil with a spade for the repair of her house. Within a year her children died, one by one. To atone for her sin of killing, she observed a fast on Ahoi ashtami, as advised by senior women, with the result that she was blessed with sons again.


Procedure of Fasting

Faith and fasting go together.


On this day, mothers get up before sunrise, take bath, and observe complete fast during the day, without drinking even water. They are expected to avoid talking too much or speaking ill of others. The fast is concluded at the end of the day, after offering arghya, oblation, to a star, and worshipping the goddess Ahoi.


Mode of worship

Images of the goddess, and that of sehi and its off-springs, are drawn on a wall (using geru, red ochre) in the north-eastern part of the house, and enshrined as per procedure.


As an alternative, a calendar, wall paper, or a piece of cloth, carrying a picture of the goddess, in an octagonal shape, is used. In front of the goddess is placed an unused earthen pot filled with water, or mangala kalasha, a copper vessel topped by coconut and mango leaves. Sometime, kalasha is placed on the grains of wheat. Mauli, red thread, considered auspicious, is tied round the water-container, and rolled-up shoots of grass are kept nearby for ceremonial purpose.


The goddess is offered gandha (perfume), pushpa (flowers), dhupa (incense), dipa (light) and naivedy (food), as a part of invocation rites. Items for sanctification include sugarcane, petha (ash gourd), radish, and cooked stuff like poori- halwa, boiled gram, gulgule (made of wheat flour and jaggery), kheer (made of milk, rice and sugar), etc. Ahoi-mantra, Om ahoi devyai namah is recited a few times, and the story of vrata is retold by an elderly woman. Names of family members are written on the wall or the poster of the goddess installed for worship. Finally, prayer is offered, seeking blessings of the goddess, and the sanctified food is distributed.


Ahoi ashtami vrata reveals the intense concern of mothers for their children, showing why scriptures describe them as living images of the divine being. Says the Devi Mahatmya (XI.5): striyah samastah sakala jagatsu – ‘all women are but His forms.’ Ahoi vrata falling about eight days before Diwali reminds us that the luminosity of the transcendental self reflects in women when they perform the role of mothers. The fact that this vrata is observed four days after Karvachauth (when women fast for the long life of their husbands) delineates their love and devotion for family.       


This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 31 October 2021 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share.

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