amṛtakalaśa

(‘chalice containing ambrosia’)

During samudramathana (churning of the milk-ocean) several celestial objects manifested themselves, the last of which was amṛta or ambrosia in a golden vessel (kalaśa) carried by Dhanvantari, the celestial physician, considered as an aspect of Viṣṇu.

The finial of a Hindu temple is shaped like the amṛtakalaśa, symbolizing immortality, the state to which the devotee aspires to rise.

See also DHANVANTARI and SAMUDRA-MATHANA.