By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Kalasa, KalaZa, Kalasha
Kalaśa literally means ‘that which sounds when filling with water’. The word ‘kalaśa’ is commonly used in two senses:
- A ceremonially established water pot
- Finial of a temple
Kalaśa, water pot
The waterpot kalaśa is used in many rituals. It is considered as a replica of the amṛtakalaśa, the celestial pot prepared by Viśvakarma at the time of churning the ocean to hold the amṛta or nectar.
Making & Dimensions
A kalaśa may be made of gold, silver, copper or even clay. The dimensions recommended are:
- Maximum circumference: 101 cm (40 inches)
- Diameter of mouth: 16 cm (6.4 inches)
- Height: 32 cm (12.8 inches)
It should be filled with water. Other things that may be put inside it are:
- Precious stones
Deities Presiding in a Kalaśa
The kalaśa is regarded as a composite divinity. The deities preside in each of it's part. They are:
- Brahmā - mouth
- Rudra - neck
- Viṣṇu - bottom portion
- Devī - middle portion
It is sometimes described as containing all the seven seas, the seven islands, the planets and the stars in it's belly. It is the replica of the whole universe.
Types of Kalaśas
Nine varieties of the kalaśas are also mentioned in some works. Eight are arranged in the eight directions and the ninth which is called as ‘indriyaghna,’ with five mouths, is kept in the center during certain rituals. Establishment of a kalaśa is a must in the Durgāpujā. The Kālikāpurāna recommends that all the gods should be worshiped in kalaśas only.
Kalaśa, the Finial
It is an important part of the superstructure over the sanctum of a temple. It may be made of copper or silver or gold. Inside it a ‘suvarṇapuruṣa’ is installed with an elaborate ritual known as ‘hṛdayavarṇakavidhi’.
- Viśvakarma was the architect of the gods.
- Kālikāpurāna chapter 87
- Suvarṇapuruṣa means a golden person.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore