Kalash is a Sacred pitcher or pot made of metal (brass, copper, silver or gold).
In different languages
Widely known as kalasa, Kalasha, Kalasam and Kumbh in Sanskrit.
In all Hindu Marriage Rituals and Pujas, the Kalash would be present.
When is it used?
- It is used during the wedding ceremony. It is placed in the Mandap, in the centre, facing the North. This positioning signifies balance that one needs in order to achieve success in life.
- During a House Warming (Grihapravesha) Ceremony it is placed near the entrance as a sign of a warm welcome to all.
- Several Hindu families also place the Holy Kalash in their Homes every Friday inviting Goddess Lakshmi to confer them with Prosperity, Peace and Happiness.
- It is also used during festivals such as Navaratris, Diwali etc.
How to source?
Commonly made of Silver or Brass, depending on the design and size can be procured online or in outlets dealing with vessels or puja items.
How is it used?
Sometimes “Kalasha” also refers to a pot filled with holy water or Gangajal, topped with a coconut and mango/betel leaves. A red or yellow sanctified thread (kalawa or mauli) is tied around the neck of the pot. The entire arrangement is termed as Purna-Kalasha, Purna-Kumbha or Purna-ghata. Basically these three names mean a full or complete vessel.
At times, the Kalasha is filled with coins, grains, gems, small chunks gold or silver or a combination of these items instead of water. A copper coin is also put inside it, as it emanates the sathvik frequencies present in water.
Five precious stones such as diamond, pearl, emerald, ruby, gold and blue sapphire are also placed in the water to attract the elements of five deities.
The water inside it represents the soul filled with love, compassion and abundance.
It is filled with water to keep the leaves pure till the Prana Pratishta or Murthi Sthapana (ceremony for infusing life into the deity without which they are mere stone idols) is complete.
The kalash topped with betel or mango leaves along with the kalawa tied on the neck symbolizes the cosmos. Since the arrangement of leaves surrounding the coconut in it is considered sacred, fresh leaves should be used. The washing of leaves is mandatory, before use. Betel leaf has rich herbal properties. It is highly invigorating and energizing. Mango leaves are considered sacred. Its wood is used for yagnas.
Image Courtesy: Arjuns Tryst with the camera
Coconut symbolizes the three eyes of Lord Shiva. In India, any new beginning is marked with the breaking of a sanctified coconut. Ensure that the coconut chosen for the kalash fits perfectly. It should be neither too small nor too large. The coconut is sometimes wrapped with a red cloth and red thread. The top or head of the coconut is known as the Shira, which is kept uncovered. The Shira always faces the sky.
The origin could be believed to be during the Samudra Manthan (ocean churning) event, when Lord Vishnu appeared with a Kalash filled with nectar.
This is treated as a symbol of good luck. This symbol of shagun represents the union of the couple and their families.
It can be painted by hand for a customized ethnic design and color. Some use design stickers to add to the traditional look.
Some Vedic scripts say, the kalash represents the body, the leaves represent the five senses and water relates to the life-force.