Purna Kumbha is an essential part of worship in Hinduism. Today it is also used in Hindu weddings, temple functions and other occasions associated with Hindu religion. Purna Kumbha, literally means a ‘full vessel’ and symbolically it is a sign of plenty. It is also referred as Kalash or Kalasha.
Reference of Purana Kumbha is found in the Skanda Purana and the Matsya Purana. In Skanda Purana it is mentioned that the ‘Purna Kumbha’ can be worshipped. Matsya Purana indicates that people placed it at their doors as a sign of plenty.
Purna Kumbha mainly contains ‘water’ – the veritable life principle. Thus it is a direct worship of Varuna – the God of rain. He is the harbinger of rain which ensures fertility on earth and which nourishes animals and human beings.
The earthen pot used as Purna Kumba is decorated with geometric designs and Swastika. The geometric design various from region to region and from community to community. Depending on the society and its wealth, earthenware gives way to silver, brass or gold pots.
Apart from water, Purna Kumbha is filled with twigs or leaves of five trees – Ashwatha (peepul), Vata (Banyan), Amra (Mango), Panasa (Jackfruit) and Bakula (Elengi). A lotus flower and a small bowl of rice are also put in the pot. The mouth of the pot is covered with a husked coconut, which is decorated from the sides with mango leaves.
Except for water, what goes in the pot varies from region to region. Mango leaves and the coconut is a constant factor in most areas.
All the items used in the Purna Kumbha signify life in its bloom and plenty. It also indicates that human beings are part of nature and when nature thrives human beings too flourish.