Urli: Exploring the Different Types of this South Indian Vessel

It goes without saying that tradition and cultural tropes play a crucial role in your daily lives. They dictate various aspects, from festivals, attires, habits, etc. They are more pronounced in a heterogeneous society like India, which comprises many religions and communities. 

As such, over the years, various means and devices have been utilized to maintain the propagation of traditional practices and cultures. So much so that unique instruments have been developed, and ingenious utensils that stand out. 

These utensils are used not only for religious and cultural purposes but also for home decor and aesthetic enhancement. One such utensil is the Urli, that’s used for numerous reasons. 

What is the Urli?

The Urli has long been a cookware predominantly utilized as a bowl to concoct ayurvedic medicines and infused oils. Found mainly in the Southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka, like many other devices and practices from the region, it was found a place across the country.  

According to many astrological and ayurvedic experts, placing an Urli in your house can have many benefits. 

The utensil is known to eliminate negative energy, and being a water-based device, it can be filled with various flowers to decorate and beautify your room.

Given these traits and benefits, the Urli has become a familiar sight among households, and more importantly, the traditional has infused with the modern.

What is the Importance of an Urli?

  • Utility: What has made Urlis so popular is its utility. Traditionally used as a cooking device, it has been diversified into many usages. The most important of them all is the decorative aspect. They can fit anywhere and match the aesthetics of almost every surrounding. They are a significant utensil for festivities and can be used once any occasion is over. Its uses are neverending! 
  • Symbolism: Symbolism associated with any utensil and device is always significant. As mentioned above, south Indian cultures are infused with Urlis and its utilities, comprising religion, astrology, cooking, decoration, etc. These factors make Urlis a symbolic instrument that cannot be ignored or missed.
  • Diversity: Urlis aren't restricted to South India only. Given the utensils' utility and elegance, their presence has only increased in the rest of the country and worldwide. People from all communities and religions use the Urli in their households to beautify their respective surroundings. 

Because of its popularity, there has been a continuous development of various kinds of Urlis. We’ll discuss them elaborately below.

Types of Urlis:

Brass Urli 

Widely recognized as the most common form, Brass Urlis adorn temples, houses, and other establishments. Brass is widely considered the most suitable metal for utensils like diyas and Urlis primarily because it is affordable and appropriate for all kinds of use.

Given the multi-faceted uses, brass Urlis can be used for everything from cooking, decoration, aquariums, and even wash basins! Additionally, they are easy to clean with simple ingredients like tamarind paste. Other methods that can be used to clean brass Urlis are: 

  • Baking Soda and Lemon Juice 
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon and Salt

Moreover, sometimes it takes some hot water to clean your Urli. Such ease of use and maintenance combined with the utility of the utensil has preserved the overall importance of brass Urli for a long time.

When it comes to festivals and other religious occasions, utensils like the Brass Ganesha Lakshmi Urli Bowl or the Metal Bowl-shaped Urli for Diwali make the experience more striking and poignant! 

Clay Urli 

For people who prefer earth over metal, clay Urlis has been a longstanding alternate. The natural form of the clay Urli gives a distinct taste to the food cooked in it, and unlike plastic, it’s very healthy.  Moreover, if you’re using it for decoration, the style and aesthetics offered are pretty different from brass or other metal Urlis.

Cooking food with clay utensils benefits your body by preserving lots of nutrients and keeping everything organic. Clay Urlis are highly sustainable for the environment as they aren’t refined with harmful minerals. Even though they are less tenable than metal Urlis, they preserve the history and culture of the utensil like no other. Some common clay Urlis are:

  • Terracotta Decorative Urli 
  • Clay Urli idols 
  • Multicolor clay Urli bowls 
  • Mud Urli 

Gold Urli

From the simple to the extravagant! Gold has always been synonymous with royalty and prosperity; gold Urli is no different. They have long adorned the walls and floors of those associated with wealth and power. The demand for gold Urlis is relatively high because they make a distinct impression on anyone who sees them.

Unlike brass and clay Urlis, the gold ones are mainly designed customarily, depending on the requirements and needs of the user. For people who use an Urli for astrological reasons, the gold Urli is the designated choice primarily because of the significance the element has on defining the standards for prosperity.

Additionally, if people can’t afford a completely gold Urli, they infuse it with a mixture of brass and gold, giving the utensil a texture like none other. Brass gold Urlis of various designs and textures adorn houses in South India majestically. 

Antique Urli

It is well known that every decorative substance can easily be transformed into an antique piece, and an Urli is no different. Given their beauty and utility, a vast market deals in antique Urlis. Since the utensil has a long history, collectors choose and invest in Urlis from a specific period and sell them for exorbitant prices. 

Urlis like the Brass Designer Antique South Indian Urli or the Home Decor Antique Urli Vessel bowl are popular among consumers and collectors. Moreover, various scientific methods are used to identify the composition and dating of a vintage Urli, and they are marketed accordingly.


Urli has gone from being a nativist utensil to something present in most households in the country; whether in front of a temple, adoring a table, or gracing the entrance of a house, the Urli has made its presence felt. 

The utensil's significance lies in its ability to be used in various efficient ways while maintaining its elegance and illuminative tendencies. The Urli has stood the test of time and will keep doing so in the future.