Ahoi Puja, or Ahoi Ashtami Vrat, is observed by mothers on the eighth day during the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of Kartik month in
North India. Puja and fasting dedicated to Hoi Mata is the main observance on the day, which falls before Diwali. The fast begins at sunrise and ends with the sighting of moon or star. Here is a simple step by step guide to how to observe Ahoi Vrat.
The fasting is from morning to sighting of moon or stars in the night sky. It is a complete fast. But many devotees drink water and eat food made using Sabudana or fruits.
After the morning prayers, mothers do their normal work.
Most women in the neighborhood gather for the puja in the afternoon or an hour or so before sunset for the Ahoi Puja.
Water in a pitcher or bowl or jug is placed on the left of the picture of Ahoi mata.
The jug or bowl containing water is covered using a red colored thread. Turmeric and kumkum is smeared on the thread.
Locally available Grains are placed on a tray or plate and are kept in front of the picture of Ahoi mata.
Prasad or food offerings that are made are also placed in front of the idol. The Prasad made include pooris, halwa, sweets, boiled channa or jowar.
Some people also place the money intended to be distributed before the photo of Ahoi Mata. The money is given to children or the poor after the puja.
There is also an important tradition of making garland using coins or currency notes by some families. Some people make garland using something very unique that is found in the region or something that is important to the family. This garland is passed on for generations. Some people make a new garland each year; others make a new garland if something highly auspicious happened in the family during the year.
Once all the puja items are ready, women listen to the Ahoi Ashtami Vrat katha from an elderly lady. Those mothers doing the puja either listen to the story on audio or CD or read the story.
Once the star or moon is spotted, an arati is performed before the portrait of Ahoi Mata. Women pray for a couple of minutes or mediate before Ahoi Mata. They pray for the well being of their children.
The fast is broken by eating some Prasad. The Prasad is also shared with family members and neighbors.