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Shiva

Lord Shiva is one of the most well-known Hindu deities in the world, and one part of the Hindu Trimurti, or trinity of deities. The trinity is otherwise made up of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.

Lord Shiva is most popularly picturised as a blue-skinned male figure sitting cross-legged on a tiger skin, with matted hair in a bun (and the river Ganga flowing through it), a trident, and a snake around his neck. However, there are many different interpretations of Shiva; of these, the most prominent are Shakti (part-male, part-female as a yin-and-yang concept of feminine and male power with his consort, Parvati), Bhairav (the terrifying form associated with destruction and death) and
Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. The Nataraja form of Shiva, particularly, inspires many Indian classical dancers and is the basis for many performances as he is famous for his 'tandav' dance. Shiva is also known as 'Adiyogi', the eternal master of yoga, which is why he is almost always shown to be sitting in half-lidded meditation and contemplation.

Hindus that dedicate their worship exclusively to Shiva are known as Shaivites (pronounced 'shai-vye-t') and believe that Shiva is the Supreme Being; as the creator, destroyer, preserver, and revealer of truth. The most important festival for Shaivites is Maha Shivaratri, a night-long observance dedicated to worship of and reverence to Shiva.

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