It is customary to perform Kalasha Pooja during Hindu ceremonies and religious rituals. But not many people know why it is done. It has a meaning and significance, and in this article, we will explore it.
What is a kalasha? It is basically a brass, mud, or copper pot with a narrow neck and a large round body filled with water. Mango leaves are placed in the pot’s mouth, and a coconut is placed over it. A white or red color thread is tied around the neck or all around it in a rather intricate, diamond-shaped pattern. The pot can also be decorated with designs. The precise measurements required are prescribed in the Kalika Purana. Such a pot is called kalasha.
According to legend, the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) were churning the milky ocean for Amrit, the divine elixir of immortality, when God emerged from the ocean, bearing a pot of Amrit. It is for this reason that the kalasha is regarded as a symbol of immortality. It is also said that in ancient times, Indian sages or rishis placed copper pots on top of temple towers to avert lightning strikes. Copper is rated as the best metal for electrical, thermal, and accoustic conductivity. Hence, it could act as a good lightning rod. When people saw that lightning did not strike, they probably began to worship it as a divine object. Hindus believe that God is present in the atmosphere in the form of subtle frequencies. And copper, according to rishis, is the best conductor of such divine frequencies.
Once the pot or kalasha is filled with water or rice, it is called ‘Poorna kumbha’, and it represents the inert body. When it is filled with the divine life force, it acquires the power to do all the wonderful things that make life blessed. A kalasha pooja is a vital part of the rituals that are performed during auspicious and important occasions like Griha Pravesh (housewarming), marriages, daily Poojas, etc.
The kalasha is kept near the entrance as a symbol of welcome. It is also used in a traditional way when receiving holy figures. There is another reason for worshipping the kalasha. Before all things were created, Lord Vishnu was lying on Adisesha, his snake-bed, in the Milky ocean. A lotus emerged from his navel, and from it appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who then created the world and everything in it.
The water that is in the kalasha signifies the primordial water from which all creation emerged. It gives life to all and has the ability to create many names and forms, inert objects, and sentient beings, including all that is auspicious in the world from the energy underlying the universe. The various detities that represent the many faces of God are invoked to bestow blessings on the worshippers.
The mango leaves symbolize the seat of the deities, and the water makes them clean. The coconut tuft is said to attract, symbolically, the divine frequencies from the atmosphere. These are then transmitted to the water in the pot through the coconut and from there to the devotees through the medium or conductor, which is the kalasha or copper pot. The red or white thread around the pot stands for the thread which binds all creation with love and compassion. Hence, the kalasha is regarded as auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the holy rivers, the blessings of all the deities, and the knowledge of all the Vedas are invoked in the kalasha. Thereafter, its water is used for all the rituals, including Abisheka.
The Kumbabisheka or consecration of a temple is done grandly, with elaborate rituals. These include the act of pouring one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple.