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is one of the main deities of Hindus. He is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity and the other two Gods are Lord Brahma - the creator and Lord Vishnu - the protector.Shiva is often shown with many faces, as creator, destroyer and preserver in total command of the cosmos.Shiva is the destructive form of the Almighty. As the cycle of destruction and recreation is always in a circle, Shiva’s primary responsibility is maintaining the life cycle.
Lord Shiva has a Snake coiled around his neck, a Trident (Trishul) in one of his hands and ashes all over his body.He appears in a meditating but ever-happy posture.He holds a Moon on his head and it is beleived that the sacred river Ganges originates from his hair.
The Lord's attributes represent his victory over the demonic activity, and calmness of human nature. He is known as the "Giver" god. His vehicle is a bull ,called Nandi which represents happiness and strength.
As Mahakaal, Shiva destroys everything into a zero but as Shiv Shankar, he reproduces which has been destroyed. His symbol of Lingam or the phallus represents this reproductive power.
Lord Shiva is also considered to be the most unique of all Hindu gods and also the God of all. A great ascetic.
Shiva is the only godhead who is forever in deep meditation, totally absorbed in contemplation in his abode, Kailaasa Himalayan range. Lord Shiva is also said to be inseparable from goddess Shakti and the two are the absolute state of being.
He contains both good and evil.
Shiva is easy to please, thus, Lord Shiva is known as the God of mercy and kindness. He protects his devotees from all evil that are always around . He blesses his followers with grace, knowledge and peace.
Attributes of Lord Shiva
Shiva as Ardhanareeswara
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Lord Shiva is said to be half man and half woman. In the full figure of Siva the male and female principles are united. Shiva Linga - the symbol of Lord Shiva which consists of both Lingam (phallus) and yoni (the female organ) represent the totality of his nature and the totality of all created existence.
Lord Shiva in the form of a Dancer is God Nataraj.Shiva is said to be performing "Tandav Nritya" by swallowing "Somrasa".
In sculptures,Shiva is shown with many hands. One pair of hands, represents the balance between life and death.Shiva is three eyed, and is 'Neela Kantha' - blue-neck since he had consumed poison to save the world from destruction.
Unclad body covered with ashes
According to some experts, Shiva’s body smeared with cemetery ash points to the philosophy of the life and death and the fact that death is the ultimate reality of the life.
Jata (Matted Hair)
The flow of his matted hair represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings.
The holiest river, Ganga flows from the "Jata",matted hair of Shiva. Shiva allowed an outlet to this divine river to reach the earth and give sacred water to human being. Ganga denotes fertility.
Lord Shiva is known as the three eyed Lord or Tryambaka Deva. The sun is his right eye, the moon left while the third eye of Shiva on his forehead is the eye of wisdom. It is the eye that looks beyond the obvious. The third eye can search evil from anywhere and destroys it completely.
The half-open eyes show that the universes cycle is in process.When it is completely open a new cycle of Life begins.When the eyes are completely closed it signifies the end of the universe.
It is a symbol of Lord Shiva, which is worshipped by the devotees Shiva temples have Shiva-Linga as the main deity.
Mahashivaratri Festival,‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the hindu month,Phalgun ie February - March in English Calendar. Devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Linga to appease Lord Shiva.
Legends of Mahashivratri
There are various interesting legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri.The most popular legends says, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’( the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction),on the day of Shivaratri.
As per the Linga Purana,it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.