A kalash is a brass, copper or earthen pot filled with water. Mango leaves are placed at the rim of the pot and a coconut is kept in the centre. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all round it with a diamond-shaped pattern and may be decorated with designs. Such a pot is called a kalasha.
When the pot is filled with rice or water it is called a purnakumbha which symbolises the lifeless body which when filled with divine life gains the power to perform various actions and makes life complete. On all important occasions like the traditional house warming, weddings, and worships, the kalasha is placed with prescribed rituals. It is placed at the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used while welcoming holy people.
It is believed that before the creation, Lord Vishnu was reclining on his serpent, the Ananta, in the ocean of milk. From his navel, rose a lotus on which was seated Lord Brahma, the creator who then created the universe.
The water in the kalasha symbolises these primeval waters from which the entire creation originated. It gives life to all and has the ability to create innumerable names and forms, the motionless objects and the animate beings. All the auspiciousness in the world emanates from this energy behind the universe. The leaves and coconut symbolise creation and the thread denotes the love that binds all the creation together. The kalasha is therefore perceived as sacred and auspicious.
The “Kumbha abhisheka” of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple. When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean, the Lord appeared bearing the pot of nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.
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