Purna Kumbha, or Purnakumbha, is an essential part of worship in Hinduism. Today it is also used in Hindu weddings, temple functions and other occasions associated with Hindu religion. Purna Kumbha, literally means a ‘full vessel’ and symbolically it is a sign of plenty, abudance and successful completion. It is also referred as Kalash or Kalasha.
The earthen pot used as Purna Kumba is decorated with geometric designs and Swastika. The geometric design various from region to region and from community to community. Depending on the society and its wealth, earthenware gives way to copper, silver, brass or gold pots.
The pot symbolizes Mother Earth. The water symbolizes the primordial water from which the entire creation emerged, the divine essence gives life to all. It is the soul filled with love and compassion, abundance and hospitality. Creation is represented by the leaves and coconut is the symbol of God-head.
Reference of Purana Kumbha is found in the Skanda Purana and the Matsya Purana. In Skanda Purana it is mentioned that the ‘Purna Kumbha’ can be worshiped. Matsya Purana indicates that people placed it at their doors as a sign of plenty.
Except for water, what goes into the pot varies from region to region. Mango leaves and the coconut is a constant factor in most areas. Purna Kumbha is also filled with twigs or leaves of five trees – Ashwatha (peepul), Vata (Banyan), Amra (Mango), Panasa (Jackfruit) and Bakula (Elengi). A lotus flower and a small bowl of rice are also put in the pot. The mouth of the pot is covered with a husked coconut, which is decorated from the sides with mango leaves.
All the items used in the Purna Kumbha signify life at its finest and full of abundance. It also indicates that human beings are part of nature and when nature thrives human beings too will flourish.
Compiled as such, the Purna Kumbha is considered to be an object symbolizing God in Hindu culture.