Ghatasthapana also known as Kalasthapana is the first day of Navratri, the festival of nine nights or Dashain.
Ghatasthapana basically involves invoking Goddess Shakti in Kalash or Pot and symbolically on the growing shoots of grains.
This is done by filling a kalash (which is generally a silver, copper or earthen pot) with holy water and covering it with cowdung, and then seeds are sown onto it.
Flowers, durva grass, rice mixed with turmeric powder, betel nut, five leaves and a coin are also put in the kalash.
A coconut is placed on top of the Kalash. Some people place flower garland on the top of kalash instead of the coconut.
A small rectangular sand block is made and the kalash is put in the centre. This bed of sand is also seeded with grains. A photo of Goddess Durga or any other incarnation of Goddess Shakti is installed in the area near the thick square of sand bed.
The Ghatasthapana ritual is performed on the first day of Navratri at a certain auspicious moment (Mahurat) which is generally determined by the pundits.
During all these nine days of Navratri, lamps are lit and aarti is performed during morning and evening. People also chant Mantra’s of goddess shakti or her forms. People also sprinkle small amount of water in the samd bed and in the pot with sand to make sure it is moist.
At the end of nine days of Navratri, as shown in photo above, the shoots grow up and reach a height of around 3 to 5 inches. on the tenth day i.e., Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami these shoots are pulled out and given to devotees as form of blessings.