puṇyāhavācana (‘declaring the day to be auspicious’) Whenever an important religious rite was to be performed, it was a custom in the olden days—which prevails even today —to invite brāhmaṇas of erudition and pure character and take their blessings. Such an act was called ‘puṇyāhavācana’. For instance, a person intending to perform the marriage of his daughter, invites such brāhmaṇas on an auspicious day, honours them with gandha (sandal¬wood paste) and tāmbula (betel leaves) and declares his wish, with folded hands. The brāhmaṇas will respond with the words, ‘orh svasti,’ ‘om puṇyāham,’ and ‘om ṛddhyatām’. Each of these is to be repeated by them thrice. These phrases respectively mean: ‘May it be auspicious!’ ‘May the day be auspicious!’ ‘May the rite progress well!’ This rite seems to have been observed with regard to the performance of most of the samskāras or sacraments.