Worship of a kalasha occupies a significant position among our rituals. Kalasha is far more superior than any idol, irrespective of whether it is made of mud, wood or metal, or to any wall poster or to any figurine of the deity worshipped as God. It is the intent behind the preparation of the kalasha that makes it significant. The feelings and belief play a very vital role.
The grains of rice poured inside the kalasha represent the 33 crore Devatas (deities). The sacred pot (kalasha) in itself represents Vishnu. The water in it is considered to be the holy water from all the sacred ponds and rivers. Mango leaves at the top signify auspiciousness (Gowri). The coconut symbolizes Shiva.
When with these feelings and beliefs it is consecrated, it turns into a Purna kumbha. Thus in such a Kumbha (pot), Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Gowri devi together with the 33 crore Devatas as well as all the sacred waters exist. It is at this point that we invoke the presiding deity who is to be worshipped into the kalasha.
This is the reason why, be it Navaratri or Shivaratri, it is an ancient practice that the main puja is always done to the kalasha.
-Glimpses of Bhaktimala 4