Lord Shiva is the God of gods (Devaadi Deva). He is the Great Deity (Mahadeva). He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He is the root cause of creation. Lord Siva is the God of love. His grace is infinite. He is the ultimate goal of all. He is smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest. He showers His grace on those who worship Him with faith and devotion and who have childlike trust in Him. Lord Siva Himself is the Guru. He rescues his devotees from harm or dangers. The grace of Siva is the road to salvation.
Monday is the important day for Lord Shiva and the thirteenth day of the fortnight (Pradosham) is most sacred day to worship Him.
Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara (Lord Shiva) form the Trinity of gods (Trimurti). Each god has a particular responsibility. Brahma creates this universe, Vishnu maintains it and Shiva is responsible for the dissolution of the universe. Lord Siva in reality is the regenerator. It is a mistake to say that He is the destroyer. He destroys all bondage, limitation and sorrow of His devotees. He is the giver of Mukti (Liberation).
He is the teacher of the celestials and he is the ultimate cause of the universe. He is often represented as immersed in deep meditation. He is the refuge of the devotees. He is the true Self of all creatures.
Goddess Parvati is the consort of Lord Shiva and Nandi (the divine bull) is his vahana (vehicle) and doorkeeper. The abode of Lord Shiva is Mount Kailash (Kailash Parvat). Mount Kailash is considered as a sacred place for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash. Pilgrims believe that circumambulating (walking around) Mount Kailash will remove sins and bring good fortune.
The three eyes of Lord Shiva represent the sun, moon and fire. The third eye in the centre of His forehead represents His destructive energy.
A tiger skin forms His cloth. Tiger is symbol of desire. To show that he has complete mastery over desires He wears the tiger skin.
Shiva is the Lord of Yogis. He sits in deep meditation immersed in joy. He has Ganga on His head. Ganga is the holiest of the holy rivers, flows from his head. It represents wisdom and purity.
The wearing of the crescent moon on His head indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly.
There is a snake on His neck. It shows that he has no death. Even when He drank poison it didn't kill Him. It adorned His neck with a blue colour. An that is why He is called Neelakanda.
He has a Trishula (three spear / Trident) in His hand. It is an important weapon of offence and defence, indicating that He is the Supreme ruler. Another hand holds Damaru. While doing Taandava dance, it produced the sound of Sanskrit syllables. So it represents alphabets, grammer and language itself.
Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Linga. LINGA in Sanskrit means, 'SYMBOL'. Shiva Lingam, therefore means symbol of Lord Shiva and is therefore considered most sacred. The Linga represents Advaita. It points out "I am one without a second - Ekameva Advitiyam".
Devotees of Lord Sri Rama must worship Lord Shiva also. Lord Rama Himself worshipped Siva Linga at Ramesvaram.
Shivratri / Maha Shiva Ratri and Pradosha are very auspicious and important festivals for the devotees of Lord Shiva. These festivals not only celebrated in India but also in Nepal and other countries where Lord Shiva is worshipped. In Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva says to His consort Parvathi that no festival other than Shivratri observed by his devotees gives Him so much pleasure and satisfaction.
Lord Shiva has several names and avatars. However the 11 Rudras worshipped in the Ekadasa Rudrabhishekam Pooja. The Word 'Rudra' means the one who drives away all sins which are the root cause of sorrow / sufferings. The form of Lord Shiva is worshipped in Eleven Rudra forms (Ganams):
They are: 1) Mahadevam, 2) Shivam, 3) Rudram, 4) Shankaram, 5) Neelalohitam, 6) Eeshaanam, 7) Vijayam, 8) Bheemam, 9) Devadevam, 10) Bhavotbhavam and 11) Adityaathmaka Rudram.
Ardhanarishvara, Aurnachala, Bhairava, Dakshinamurthy, Hanuman, Lingeshwara, Nataraja, Shankara.
OM Tatpurusaya Vidmahe
Tanno Rudrah Pracodayat