By Swami Harshananda
Āhvāna literally means ‘invitation’.
During the Vedic sacrifices, gods have to be invited to come to the yāgaśālā or the sacrificial shed to receive their share of the offerings. During the śrāddha or obsequious rites, the pitṛs or manes have to be invited to come and receive their offerings. Both these are done with appropriate mantras. This act of inviting is technically called as ‘āhvāna.’
Āhvāna is also done during the consecration of an image in a temple. The deity is invoked to come in its subtle form and reside in that image permanently for worship and confer boons.
In pujā or ritualistic worship, āhvāna is considered as one of the upacāras or items of service to honor the deity. The particular mudrā or handpose exhibited during the act is called ‘āhvānī- mudrā.’
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore