21 October 2019 / 08 November 2020
The festival of ‘Ahoi Ashtami’ is celebrated after the ‘Sharad Purnima’ and before Diwali. Mothers observe fast and abstain from food praying for the welfare of children. Women who do not have children also observe this praying to have children.
Women-folk draw the image of Goddess Ahoi Mata on wall. The image encapsulates aspects the story of Ahoi which is told by a senior woman to other women who come together.
The story involves accidental death of babies of ‘sui’ an animal variously described as a hedge-hog or jackal in different versions.
Story – audio
The story being told in Hindi language at AZIMVTH Ashram is available as an audio file (.WAV format, 68.2 Mb, 6.45 minutes) below.
The transcript of an approximate translation is given below.
There was a family of 7 brothers and one sister. They worked in the fields. Everybody used to celebrate the Ahoi festival. One day they went to the forest to start the digging of the mud, they wanted to collect. The wives of the 7 brothers and the sister did that. Who should dig was the question? All wives agreed that the sister should do it. But then wife of the youngest brother said that her mother in law wouldn’t be happy to see her daughter so tired. And she proposed to do it. While digging, an baby animal called Siova (like squirrel) came and the baby Siova died accidentally being hit by the spade. The mother Siova comes and asks who killed her baby.
All the women said it was the youngest brothers wife who did it. Then the mother was sad and angry and she cursed the woman, she should not have children and if so they would die.
So happened. Whenever she was pregnant the baby would be still born.
Every year, when the festival came (one prays for well-being of children) everybody told not to go to the house of the 7th brother for it would spoil the festival as the wife was crying all the time. Every year she would conceive but never a baby would survive.
Someone told her, if you do service and pray to mother cow, a solution will come.
From then, every day at 4 am she went to and cleaned the cows place while the cows were sleeping. Every day, the leader of the cows noticed it while waking up and wondered who did that. So one day she decided not to sleep in order to see who did the cleaning. So she sees the woman and asks her who she is and why she cleans the area. She says, I just want to honor you. The cow was pleased and asked her what do you want? “My children don’t survive give me an appropriate blessing”.
“We should go to the Ahoi Mata who lives across the seven waters”.
Hold my tail tight and don’t let it go. They cross the river. The cow swims and the woman holds her tail.
Garuda mother arrives, I will help you, come and ride on me. They ride together on Garuda’s back and reach the place of Ahoi Mata.
Ahoi Mata and Garuda mother are god sisters. They ask how they are. The woman shows respect to Ahoi Mata touching her feet and combing her hair. Ahoi Mata is pleased and asks who she is and what she wants. My children don’t survive, please bless me. It s difficult for it’s the curse but I am so pleased, I bless you. You can go back.
The woman reaches her house. And finds her seven children playing and she is very happy. When the day of Ahoi Mata came, the wife of the eldest brother said, we don’t go there. But they realize they don’t hear any crying. They send their children to check. The children report what they saw. Everybody is happy.
The festival of Ahoi Mata is observed by mothers for the well-being of their children.
A grand salute to all mothers, expectant-mothers, wanna-be mothers, and all those in motherly roles!
More information is available at the following weblinks of AZIMVTH Ashram.