Kalash or Kalasha is a coconut circled by mango leaves on a pot and is an important accompaniment in various rituals in Hindu religion. A kalasha when filled with water, rice or other grains is known as ‘Purnakumbha.’
The pot for the Kalasha can be made of clay, brass or copper. Nowadays a pot made of any metal is used. Mango leaves are arranged in the mouth of the pot. A coconut – outer green covering removed – is placed over the mouth of the pot. The neck of the pot is tied with a white, yellow or red colored thread or cloth. Some people draw a swastika on the side of the pot. Depending on their artistic skill, some draw various designs using natural products. Today, various designer types of pots are used as Kalasha.
The Kalasha symbolically represents creation. The vacant pot, symbolizes earth, and the water filled symbolizes the primordial water from which life began on earth. Life began in water and nothing can exist in this world without water.
In Hindu Mythology, Lord Vishnu reclines on the ocean and a lotus with the creator Brahma emerges from Him. This indicates that life began in water.
The mango leaves represent the life forms. And coconut a product from the life forms is again filled with water symbolically representing endless cycle and the single thread that runs in all of us.
When devas and asuras churned the ocean to obtain the immortality nectar, it is said that the nectar appeared in a kalasha. Thus it also symbolizes immortality. The water in the kalasha is also used during the consecration of temples and is known as kumbabhisheka and it involves pouring water from several kalashas.
A kalasha is an important accompaniment in Hindu rituals conducted during housewarming or Grihapravesa, wedding, while receiving important dignitaries, during festive occasions and as a welcome sign at the entrance of houses.