Vrindavan, 2014.10.13 (VT): Brajwasis and devotees are prepared to celebrate Ahoi Ashtami. This year it falls on Wednesday, October 15th. This day is considered by many as the most auspicious day in the holy month of Karttik. On the eighth day of the waning phase of the Damodar month, the Ahoi Ashtami is celebrated, when mothers observe a fast for their sons. Mother Yashoda used to observe this fast for the well-being of her son Krishna.
This day is also observed as the appearance day of Radha Kund when the devotees’ take bath in the midnight in the kund. Busfulls of devotees go to Radha Kund from Vrindavan and other places to take bath in the kund. Bathing in Radha Kund is especially beneficial on this day. Radha Kund appeared at midnight.
A holy dip in Radha Kund on the auspicious day of Ahoi Ashtami is considered very significant. Couples who have problems in conceiving come here to seek blessings of Radharani, the consort of Lord Krishna. The bathing day falls on Krishna Paksha Ashtami in the month of Kartik as per Purnimant calendar followed in North India.
It is believed that a holy dip in Radhakunda tank on the auspicious day of Ahoi Ashtami helps couples to conceive a child. Due to this belief, thousands of couples come to Govardhan every year and take a holy dip together in Radha Kunda.
The midnight time, which is known as Nishita time, is considered the significant moment to take the holy dip. Hence bathing begins at midnight and continues throughout the night. To seek the blessings of Radharani to conceive soon, couples perform puja after standing in the water tank and offer Kushmanda, white raw pumpkin, which is famously known as Petha. Kushmanda is offered after decorating it with red cloth.
Even those couples, whose wishes were fulfilled, revisit Radha Kund as gratitude of thanks to Goddess Radha Rani.
Ahoi Ashtami or Ahoi Aathe is a festival that is integral to Vraja culture. Since Krishna’s mother celebrated it for Krishna’s well-being, so do the Brijwasi women. The women organize special puja with an earthen pot full of water and a calendar bearing the story of Ahoi Ashtami. Then the sons take bath with that water on the day of Chhoti Diwali, the day before Diwali. It is believed the sons will remain healthy if they take bath with that water.
On Ahoi Ashtami mothers fast from dawn to dusk, breaking it at twilight after seeing the stars in the sky. Some women break the fast after getting sight of the moon, but this is more challenging as the moon rises late in the night on Ahoi Ashtami.
Ahoi Ashtami day falls approximately eight days before Diwali Puja and four days after Karwa Chauth. Similar to Karwa Chauth, Ahoi Ashtami is more popular in North India.
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring clay for the renovation and painting of her home. She started digging the ground above a foxhole. By accident, her spade broke through the ground into the hole and killed the fox cubs in the den. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic, but being helpless she returned home from the forest.
When the mother fox returned to her den, she began to lament at the death of her children and prayed to God to punish the perpetrator of the deed. “May that person suffer the loss of her children just as I have!”
As a result of the curse, all her seven sons died within the year. One day she narrated her woes to some of the elderly ladies in the village. She was crying and told them that she didn’t commit the sin intentionally. The ladies appreciated her honesty and told her that by confessing her sin she had atoned her half of the sin. They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ahoi Bhagwati by making an image of her. “By the grace of the goddess your sin will be 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 was showered on her and she was able to get her seven of her sons back. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati every year on this day. The image of Ahoi Devi is usually made with red color on the mud walls.