Ancient Indians had recognized the animals’ right to co-exist with man and therefore they were loved, nurtured and worshipped.

Once I wrote about the so called festivals in India which are simply excuses for killing. But for every travesty of an animal based festival, we have good ones as well. Fairly good ones, because even though the animal is central to the festival, our worship is largely symbolic now.

The Ahoi Ashtami is a fast observed by mothers for the well-being of their sons during the month of Karthik (October –November).

The story of Ahoi Ashtami relates to a woman with seven sons. She went to the forest to bring soil and her implement fell on an animal den and killed a cub. Over the next year, her seven sons died and she felt it was a result of what happened with the cub. As atonement for her sin, she offered prayers to the goddess Ashtami Bhagawati by sketching the face of the cub. She eventually got back all her sons by the power of her prayer and ever since it becomes a ritual to worship the goddess every year. Mothers fast and pray for their children.


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