The Kalash is a sacred waterpot – a symbol of Creation, Divinity and Immortality and an essential accessory for Hindu Puja. Both the ‘waterpot’ and ‘puja’ have strong links with our dance. The waterpot being one of our dance steps and the puja a moving meditation carried out before class or performance.
The kalash is filled with pure water and mango or betel nut leaves arranged around the mouth. Betel nut, copper coins and grains are added and for those who can afford it five precious stones like pearl, diamond, emerald, sapphire, ruby and gold.
Finally, a coconut is placed on the mouth of the kalash and a red and yellow sacred thread tied around the kalash.
The Kalash as a Symbol of Creation
The water represents the primordial water present in the universe. The grain and other components represent the elements and life formed during creation. Equally the kalash represents the womb of the Mother Goddess believed to nurture life. The water is the placental fluid whilst the mango leaves are traditionally associated with the deity of love, Kama, representing the pleasurable side of procreation.
The Seat of Divinity in Hinduism
During any Hindu ritual worship, it is customary to invite all the deities to attend the event and bless the devotees. The kalash provides a place for the deities to be seated – the seats being represented by the leaves. In some scriptural hymns the kalash embodies the unity of the Hindu trinity. The mouth is the seat of Vishnu, the throat the seat of Shiva and the base the seat of Brahma. The belly represents all goddesses and the Divine Mother. Thus in this small urn the presence of all gods and goddesses is symbolized. This exemplifies that all the gods are essentially one and are emanations of the same Supreme Power.
The Nectar of Immortality
In mythology the nectar of immortality lay within the ocean depths and with the churning of the ocean or Samudra Manthan the god Dhanvantri (a representation of Vishnu) would emerge with a kalash containing the nectar.