The goddess Ganga shown with a kumbha (a full vase)
In the context of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology, the kumbha symbolises the womb. It represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance and is generally associated with devis, particularly Ganga.
According to Hindu mythology, the first kumbha was created by Prajapati on the occasion of the marriage of Shiva, so he was first kumbhara "potter". Another myth says that the first pot was created by Vishvakarman on the occasion of the churning of the ocean for the first Amrit Sanchar.
In several religious ceremonies and rituals, kumbhas or kalashas filled with water and leaves and decorated with intricate motifs, sometimes with ornaments, play an important role in ancient India. These rituals still survive in India.
- Darian 2001, p. 125 Quote: The Kumbha: After the Makara, Ganga's most distinctive sculptural feature is the full vase, first appearing with the river goddess on the same Varaha cave frieze from Udaygiri. Although not common in the early stages of the Ganga image, the full vase appears more and more frequently as the Ganga theme reaches maturity.
- The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Volume 4 by R. V. Russell
- Darian, Steven (2001), The Ganges in myth and history, Delhi:Motilal Banarasidass. Pp. xviii, 219. Originally published in 1978 by The University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu., ISBN 81-208-1757-5
- Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna Dallapiccola
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