KALASH - A Brief description about worship the kalash - A copper pot is filled with water

Why do we worship the kalasha?

First of all what is a kalasha? A brass, mud or copper pot is filled with water. Mango leaves are placed in the mouth of the pot and a coconut is placed over it. A red or white thread is tied around its neck or sometimes all around it in a intricate diamond-shaped pattern. The pot may be decorated wit designs. Such a pot is known as a kalasha.

When the pot is filled with water or rice, it is known as purnakumbha representing the inert body which when filled with the divine life force gains the power to do all the wonderful things that makes life what it is.

A kalasha is placed with due rituals on all-important occasions like the traditional house warming (grihapravesa), wedding, daily worship etc. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages. Why do we worship the kalasha? Before the creation came into being, Lord Vishnu was reclining on His snake-bed in the milky ocean. From His navel emerged a lotus from which appeared Lord Brahma, the creator, who thereafter created this world.

The water in the kalasha symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged. It is the giver of life to all and has the potential of creating innumerable names and forms, the inert objects and the sentient beings and all that is auspicious in the world from the energy behind the universe. The leaves and coconut represent creation.

The thread represents the love that "binds" all in creation. The kalasha is therefore considered auspicious and worshipped. The waters from all the holy rivers, the knowledge of all the Vedas and the blessings of all the deities are invoked in the kalasha and its water is thereafter used for all the rituals, including the abhisheka.

The consecration (kumbhaabhisheka) of a temple is done in a grand manner with elaborate rituals including the pouring of one or more kalashas of holy water on the top of the temple.

When the asuras and devas churned the milky ocean, the Lord appeared bearing the pot of  nectar, which blessed one with everlasting life.

Thus the kalasha also symbolizes immortality. Men of wisdom are full and complete as they identify with the infinite Truth (poornatvam). They brim with joy and love and respect all that is auspicious. We greet them with a purnakumbha ("full pot") acknowledging their greatness and as a sign of respectful and reverential welcome, with a "full heart".

 Why do we consider the lotus as special?
A Brief description about worship the kalash
 The lotus is the symbol of truth, auspiciousness and beauty (satyam, shivam, sundaram). The Lord is also that nature and therefore, His various aspects are compared to a lotus (i.e. lotus-eyes, lotus feet, lotus hands, the lotus of the heart etc.).

The lotus blooms with the rising sun and close at night. Similarly, our minds open up and  expand with the light of knowledge. The lotus grows even in slushy areas. It remains  beautiful and untainted despite its surroundings, reminding us that we too can and should strive to remain pure and beautiful within, under all circumstances.

The lotus leaf never gets wet even though it is always in water. It symbolizes the man of wisdom (gyaani) who remains ever joyous, unaffected by the world of sorrow and change.

This is revealed in a shloka from the Bhagwad-Geeta:

Brahmanyaadhaaya karmaani
Sangam tyaktvaa karoti yaha
Lipyate na sa paapena
Padma patram ivaambhasaa

He who does actions, offering them to Brahman (the Supreme), abandoning attachment, is not tainted by sin, just as a lotus leaf remains unaffected by the water on it.

From this, we learn that what is natural to the man of wisdom becomes a discipline to be practiced by all saadhakas or spiritual seekers and devotees. Our bodies have certain energy centers described in the Yoga Shaastras as chakras.

Each one is associated with lotus that has a certain number of petals. For example, a lotus with a thousand petals represents the Sahasra chakra at the top of the head, which opens when the yogi attains Godhood or Realisation. Also, the lotus posture (padmaasana) is recommended when one sits for meditation. A lotus emerged from the navel of Lord Vishnu.

Lord Brahma originated from it to create the world. Hence, the lotus symbolizes the link between the creator and the supreme Cause.

It also symbolizes Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Brahma. The auspicious sign of the swastika is said to have evolved from the lotus.

Kalasha means a pot to carry water. Brass or silver Kalasa is usually used for poojas. Kalash symbolically represents the Goddess in most pujas.

Here is a step by step guide to prepare a Kalasa for a simple Hindu Puja.

Requirements for Kalasha

  • A medium sized brass or silver pot.
  • Turmeric powder
  • Kumkuma
  • Water
  • Coconut
  • Mango leaves
  • Coins
  • Rice
  • Dried fruit
  • Flowers
  • A Piece of unstiched cloth - Vastaram

To Make a Simple Kalash for Normal Puja

First clean the pot thoroughly and wipe out the water content from outside.

Decorate the pot with turmeric and kumkuma dots. The pot is filled with pure water or water collected from rivers.

The Kalasa is placed in the puja area usually on a Kolam or Rangoli.

The water from this pot is sprinkled while doing puja.

Kalasha puja
A Brief description about worship the kalash

> kalasham gandha-pushpa-kshatai rabhyarchya (pour water, akshantam, flower in the kalasham and apply gandham on three sides)

> tadupari hastam nidhaya (place your right hand on kalasham and chant the following mantra)

> kalashasya mukheh vishnuh kante-rudra-samasritah mule-tatrastito bramha-madhye

> matru-ganah-smrutah kukshowtu-sagara-sarve sapta-dvipa-vasundhara rug-vedodha yajur-veda sama-vedo-hyadharvana

> amgaischa-sahita-sarve kalashantu samasritah ayantu devapujardham mama-duritakshaya-karakah atra gayatri savitri shantih pushti-karishvari||

> apova edagm sarvam vishwa-bhutanyapah pranaga apah pashava

> aponna-mapo-mrutamapah samradapo viradapasvara dapaschamdagam syapo-jyotigom-shyapoyaju syapasatyama-pasarva-devata apo bhurbhavasuva rapa om||

> gangecha-yamune chaiva godavari sarsvati narmada sindhu-kaveri jalesmin sanidham-kuruh, kaveri tunga-bhadracha krusha-venicha gowtami bhagirdhi-cha vikhyatah pancaganga prakirtitah kalashodakena puja dravayani samprokshya,devamatma-namcha somprokshya

(take the water from kalash and sprinkle on god, pooja articles & yourself)

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