Shiva: The Most Adorable God
Shiva or Siva is a great ascetic. He is like a bridge between the humans on the earth and Gods in the heaven. The great Yogi sits in meditation on the tiger skin on the high slopes of Mount Kailash in Himalayas. Through his deep meditation the world is maintained. He wears his long matted hair (Jata) in a topknot with crescent moon fixed on his forehead and sacred river Ganga flows from the knot. His neck is black, scarred by the poison which was the last product of churning of the cosmic ocean and which he drank to save the other Gods. Snakes encircle his neck and arms. His body is covered with ashes. Besides him is the trident and his wife Parvati and his mount Nandi bull.
Although he always seems to be wrapped in meditation, he can, in his divine power divide his personality. He is the lord of dance (Nataraja). In this aspect he is very popular in Tamil country. He dances in his heavenly palace at Mount Kailasa and Chidambaram temple. He is said to have developed no less than 108 different forms of dances, some cal and gentle, others fierce, orgiastic and terrible. Tandava is the form of latter. In this dance he he dances and beats a wild rhythm which destroys the world at the end of cosmic cycle.
Another form which he is seen is called Daksinamurti a universal teacher and is depicted is an informal pose, with one foot on the ground and other folded on the throne on which he sits and one hand raised in a gesture of explanation.
Above all these, he is worshiped in the form of linga, usually a cylindrical pillar with rounded top. This form seems to be popular even in Harappa civilization thus constituting an element from non-Aryan culture. Shiva evolved from the fierce Vedic god Rudra with whom elements of non-Aryan fertility were merged.
In South India, story of the marriage of Shiva and Meenakshi, daughter of a Pandiyan king of Madurai is an event celebrated in one of the most famous and splendid of the temples.