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Hoyi (Ahoyi Ashtami)

Written By: Ruchi - Oct• 27•13
The festival of Hoyi is observed on the eighth day (ashtami) of the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar. The festival is observed mainly in North India. Mothers observe fast for the well being of their kids.
Hoyi Devi
How is it celebrated
Traditionally the fast is kept for sons only. Mothers don’t eat or drink anything the whole day. In the evening around sunset, they dress up in auspicious colors like red, pink, yellow and green and prepare a pooja thali. Thali contains a small clay lamp, Roli, rice, 14 Poode (a sweet made of wheat flour and sugar), a gift for mother in law and a small pitcher with water. The Hindu Swastika is drawn on the pitcher with the help of the Roli paste. The sacred thread, Kalava is tied around the pitcher and around Hoyi Devi (with the help of the soft insides of a Pooda). A few seasonal vegetables and fruits are kept in front of Hoyi, like radish, water chestnut etc. Fourteen Poode are prepared and kept in the thali and the lamp is lit. They take a couple of Poodas in the hand and then listen to the Hoyi story (see below) in front of the Hoyi picture. The story can be told by anyone in the family or they can recite it themselves. Once the story is finished, the Roli paste and the water is sprinkled around the pooja thali three times. If their mother in law is around, they touch their feet and give them the gift and the Poode. The gift and Poode together are also called Bayana. Then they go out and see a star, sprinkle Roli paste and poode pieces towards the star three times and pray for their sons to become as glorious as the stars. Then the pitcher water is offered to the star and the fast is broken with pakka khana (Puri/Kachori and a couple of curries).
Pooja Thali
In olden days, men were the sole bread winner of the household, so most of the fasts were to pray for their well being. In the modern times, women play equally important role in the family, so now mothers should not differentiate between the sons and the daughters and pray for both. It’s interesting to note that on Karva Chauth women break their fast after seeing the moon and on Hoyi they break their fast after seeing a star. The reason is that moon is only one, just like a husband and kids may be many, just like the stars.
The Story
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring soil for the renovation and painting of her home on the eighth day of the month of kartik just before the Hindu festival Deepawali. She started digging the soil and wounded the children of the worms in the soil unknowingly. The woman felt bad but couldn’t do anything and came back with the soil.
As time passed by, all her seven sons died within a year. She was devastated. One day she narrated her woes to the old ladies in her village and they suggested that the woman should pray to the Ahoyi Devi by sketching the face of the worm. So the next Kartik Ashtami, the woman kept the fast of Ahoyi Devi and prayed for her to return her sons. Devi was happy and brought her sons back to life. Since then, all mothers started praying to Ahoyi Mata for the well being of their sons on the Ashtami of the Kartik Month.