In traditional Durga Puja, Goddess Durga is worshipped in the form of nine plants (Navapatrika) which is wrapped in a red sari. This is placed in an earthen pot called ‘Purna Ghata.’ This ritual is known as Kalasa Sthapana or Ghata Sthapana. This is also believed to be the oldest ritual associated with Goddess Durga. The Pot is today placed before the idol of the Goddess on a Yantra. The Ghata or pot symbolizes Durga or her creative power and is closely associated with fertility.
The nine plants placed in the Purna Ghata are – plantain, turmeric, barley, bilva or bel, ashoka, pomegranate, paddy, Kachvi and Mana. The nine plants symbolically represent ‘navadurga’ – nine forms of Durga.
The Purna Ghata is usually placed on ‘sarvatobhadra mandalam’ made using rice powder and in its center a lotus with eight petals is drawn. Sarvatobhadra Mandalam is a very popular yantra and it symbolically supports the energy in the Purna Ghata.
During pujas and worship, the priest use waters from holy rivers to anoint the Purna Ghata and the plants. Other important items used in anointing the Ghata are sugarcane juice, sesame oil, different types of soils and mud dug up using the horn of elephant or boar or bull etc.
During the puja rituals a different pot containing edible fruits and plants other than those mentioned in the navapatrika is worshipped. Rice and curd is also added to this pot and its neck is covered with five different types of leaves and tied using a red thread. An earthen plate containing betel nut, rice, fruit, fresh coconut with stalk is placed on top of the leaves. A figure, similar to swastika known as Sinduraputli, is drawn on the surface of the pot using vermillion paste. This pot is placed on flattened clay and the priest prays to Mother Goddess.
The clay image and the earthen pot worshipped symbolically represent Mother Earth and this is the most ancient form of worship. Symbolically, suggesting that the worship of Mother Goddess during Durga Puja is a sort of thanksgiving to Nature.