Nandi, Shiva’s Bull

Shiva rides on a bull by the name of Nandi and every Shiva temple has a Nandi which sits accross from Shiva always looking in his direction.  I’ve produced a podcast (#37) with stories of Nandi, some of which are quite amusing.

My favorite is once Parvati got really mad at Shiva for calling her as dumb as a fisherman’s daughter.  To spite him, she left to go live in a fishing village as a young girl.  Shiva missed her terribly and wanted to get her back but didn’t know how.  So Nandi turned himself into a huge shark and terrorized the villagers, so that Shiva cold come and drive him off, save the village, and impress the girl (Parvati) so she would marry him and ultimately return to the mountains!

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This Nandi is found in a 500 year old temple Shiva temple in Varanasi.

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As a part of the yagya process, the Nandi is honored with pujas and lots of flowers.  The red powder you see on his nose is kumkum which is associated with Lakshmi and represents purity and prosperity.

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Even though this temple is quite small, there is room for Nandi on the left and the Shiva lingam, now covered in flowers on the right.