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A kalasha, also spelled kalash or kalasa (Sanskrit: कलश;;kalaśa,Tamil: பூரணகும்பம்;;pooranakumbham, literally "pitcher, pot"), is a metal (brass, copper, silver or gold) pot with a large base and small mouth, large enough to hold a coconut. Sometimes "Kalasha" also refers to such a pot filled with water and topped with a coronet of mango leaves and a coconut. This combination is often used in Hindu
Hindu
rites and depicted in Hindu
Hindu
iconography. The entire arrangement is called Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
(पूर्णकलश), Purna- Kumbha
Kumbha
(पूर्णकुम्भ), or Purna-ghata (पूर्णघट). Each of these names literally means "full or complete vessel" when the pot is referred to as the Kalasha
Kalasha
(to avoid confusion, this article will refer to the pot as Kalasha
Kalasha
and the entire arrangement as Purna-Kalasha). Sometimes the Kalasha
Kalasha
is filled with coins, grain, gems, gold, or a combination of these items instead of water. The coronet of 5, 7, or 11 mango leaves is placed such that the tips of the leaves touch water in the Kalasha. The coconut is sometimes wrapped with a red cloth and red thread; the top of the coconut (called Shira – literally "head") is kept uncovered. A sacred thread is tied around the metal pot. The Shira is kept facing the sky. The Kalasha
Kalasha
is viewed as an auspicious object in Jainism. The Kalasha
Kalasha
is used as a ceremonial object as well as a decorative motif in Indian art
Indian art
and architecture. The Kalasha
Kalasha
motif was used in decorating bases and capitals of pillars from the 5th century.[1] The Kalasha
Kalasha
is part of the official state emblem of Andhra Pradesh state in India.[2] In Hinduism[edit]

Worship of a Kalasha

The Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
is considered a symbol of abundance and "source of life" in the Vedas. Purna- Kumbha
Kumbha
is preeminently a Vedic
Vedic
motif, known from the time of Rigveda. It is also called Soma-Kalasha, Chandra-Kalasha, Indra-Kumbha, Purnaghata, Purna-Virakamsya, Bhadra ghata, or Mangala ghata. It is referred to as "overflowing full vase" (purno-asya Kalasha) in the Vedas.[3] The Kalasha
Kalasha
is believed to contain amrita, the elixir of life, and thus is viewed as a symbol of abundance, wisdom, and immortality. The Kalasha
Kalasha
is often seen in Hindu iconography
Hindu iconography
as an attribute, in the hands of Hindu deities
Hindu deities
like the creator god Brahma, the destroyer god Shiva
Shiva
as a teacher, and the goddess of prosperity Lakshmi.[4] The Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
is believed to be a symbol of auspiciousness embodying either Ganesha, remover of obstacles, or his mother Gauri, the goddess of household bounty or Lakshmi. The Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
is worshipped in all Hindu
Hindu
festivities related to marriage and childbirth, as a mother goddess or Devi. In this context, the metal pot or Kalasha
Kalasha
represents material things: a container of fertility - the earth and the womb, which nurtures and nourishes life. The mango leaves associated with Kama, the god of love, symbolize the pleasure aspect of fertility. The coconut, a cash crop, represents prosperity and power. The water in the pot represents the life-giving ability of Nature.[5] Sometimes, a silver or brass face of the Goddess is attached over the coconut of the Purna-Kalasha. In this form, the Purna-Kalasha symbolizes the Goddess as the manifestation of mother earth with her water, minerals, and vegetation. This method of Kalash pooja (worship) has come in for Vishnu
Vishnu
in household functions too.[6] The Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
is also worshipped at Hindu
Hindu
ceremonies like Griha Pravesha (house warming), child naming, havan (fire-sacrifice), Vaastu dosha rectification, and daily worship. Other intrepretations of the Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
associate with the five elements or the chakras. The wide base of metal pot represents the element Prithvi
Prithvi
(Earth), the expanded centre - Ap (water), neck of pot - Agni
Agni
(fire), the opening of the mouth - Vayu
Vayu
(air), and the coconut and mango leaves - Akasha (aether). In contexts of chakras, the Shira (literally "head") - top of the coconut symbolizes Sahasrara
Sahasrara
chakra and the Moola (literally "base") - base of Kalasha
Kalasha
- the Muladhara chakra.[7] A kalash is placed with due rituals on all important occasions. It is placed near the entrance as a sign of welcome. It is also used in a traditional manner while receiving holy personages. In Jainism[edit] The Kalasha
Kalasha
is included in the Ashtamangala
Ashtamangala
lists of both the Svetambara
Svetambara
and Digambara
Digambara
sects of Jainism. Two eyes are depicted around the Kalasha, symbolising right faith and right knowledge. It is used for religious and social ceremonies. It is used in temples when certain images are being worshipped. When one enters a new home it is customary to carry the kalasha on the head reciting mantras. This ceremony is performed to welcome grace and happiness into the new home. They first appear in stone in the Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
period (65-224 AD).[8] It is a symbol of auspiciousness. References[edit]

The Purna- Kalasha
Kalasha
symbol painted, between the two cows, on the rear of a truck in India

^ Students' Britannica India
India
by Dale Hoiberg,ani p. 183 Published 2000, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 0-85229-760-2 ^ http://www.ap.gov.in/ ^ The Abode of Mahashiva: Cults and Symbology in Jaunsar-Bawar in the Mid Himalayas by Madhu Jain. Contributor O. C. Handa. Published 1995, Indus Publishing. 199 pages ISBN 81-7387-030-6 p. 171 "Drona Parva, 11, 29" ^ The Book of Hindu
Hindu
Imagery: Gods, Manifestations and Their Meaning by Eva Rudy Jansen ^ The Goddess in India: The Five Faces of the Eternal Feminine by Devdutt Pattanaik p.54 Published 2000, Inner Traditions / Bear & Company , 176 pages, ISBN 0-89281-807-7 ^ Flipside of Hindu
Hindu
Symbolism (Sociological and Scientific Linkages in Hinduism) by M. K. V. Narayan p.137 Published 2007, Fultus Corporation, 200 pages, ISBN 1-59682-117-5 ^ India: Known Things, Unknown Secrets by R. Venugopalan pp.130-132 Published 2004 B. Jain Publishers 290 pages ISBN 81-8056-373-1 ^ Jainism: A Pictorial Guide to the Religion of Non-violence by Kurt Titze and Klaus Bruhn p.234 Published 1998, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 267 pages, ISBN 81-208-1534-3

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