“ सर्वमङ्गलमाङ्गल्ये शिवे सर्वार्थसाधिके । शरण्ये त्र्यम्बके गौरि नारायणि नमोऽस्तु ते ॥
 

Main Shiva Temple

   
Lord Shiv is considered as India’s most popular and ancient God. Evidence of Shiv worship is available from the seals and symbols of Harappa Civilisation. He has been referred to by various names such as Maheshwar, Mahayogi, Mahadev, Aadidev, Pashupati, Nataraj etc.
   
Shiv has been referred to as Rudra in Rigved who consumes Som and whose bow gives rise to diseases. He has also been considered as the God of medicines.
   
The Greek traveller Megasthenes has mentioned about the worship of Shiv on a large scale in India. He has referred to Shiv as Dionysos. The Western scholars compare him with the Greek God, Apollo.
   
According to the Puranas, his entire body is smeared with ash and his throat is blue due to the consumption of poison. His matted hair carries the Ganga River; the head holds the moon while the centre of the forehead has the third eye. He uses tiger skin and elephant skin as clothing and is garlanded with serpents and human skulls around the neck.
   
Lord Shiv, besides being an ascetic, also has a family. His wife is Parvati and he has 2 sons called Ganesh and Kartikeya. His vehicle is Nandi (a bull) and he keeps a large number of Gans (attendants) with him. His hands hold a trishul (trident) and a damru (a small drum).
   
As a result of a curse by Bhrigu Rishi, he is worshipped in the ling form, a symbol of creation. The 12 Jyotirlings situated at various places in India are considered as the most active sites of his. His oldest representative in a human form is the Shivling of Gudimallam (Chennai).
   
Generally Lord Shiv is considered as the God of destruction. However, a number of contradictory traits can be seen in his persona. He is very easily pleased in the form of Ashutosh but furious in the Bhairav form. His Rudra form makes one weep while the Shankar and Shambhu forms shower joy.
   
Lord Shiv is also considered as the father of dance, music, and yoga. In his Dakshinamurti form, he is worshipped as a teacher of all forms of knowledge.
   
According to traditional beliefs, the entire universe has been created with 5 basic elements - Prithvi (earth), Jal (water), Agni (fire), Aakash (space), and Vayu (air). Lord Shiv being the controller of these elements is worshipped in his Panchanan form - Sadyojat (earth), Vamdev (water), Aghor (fire), Tatpurush (air), and Ishaan (space)
   
Since ancient times, Shiv has been worshipped as different sects in different parts of the country. Sects like Trik, Pratyabhignya, Spandastar, and Pashupat emerged in Kashmir, while Matmayur rose in Central India. Nathpanth was dominant in eastern India and Lingayat was popular in Kannada region. In the Tamil region, the Nayanars and the Aagam saints popularised the worship of Shiv.
 
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