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 obsequial rites, the pitṛs or manes have to be invited to come and receive their offerings. Both these are done with appro-priate mantras. This act of inviting is technically called ‘āvāhana.’
Āvāhana 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, receiving worship and conferring boons.
In pūjā or ritualistic worship, āvāhana is considered as one of the upacāras or items of service to honour the deity. The particular mudrā or handpose exhibited during the act is called ‘āvāhanī-mudrā.’