Yajñas or Vedic sacrifices are generally of three types: pākayajñas in which cooked articles are offered; haviryajñas in which havis or ghee is the oblation; and somayajñas in which the soma juice is the main ingredient of offering. Aptoryāma belongs to the last group. It is considered as an extension of another somayajña, viz., the Atirātra.
The rite derives its name ‘Aptoryāma’ from the belief that by its performance one secures whatever one desires (āp = to secure). However, it is usually performed by one who wants to obtain cattle of good breed. More than a thousand cows and a chariot with mules yoked are to be gifted away in this sacrifice.