Shiva, also known as Mahadeva (lit. ‘the great god’) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is represented in a variety of forms: As Lord of Cattle (Pashupata), he is the benevolent herdsman—or, at times, the merciless slaughterer of the “beasts” that are the human souls in his care. Almost all Shiva temples display stone-images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine.
The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back to India with the dreadlocked deity Shiva. In many artistic renditions of Shiva, she is shown with matted hair very similar to dreadlocks. In ancient records she is known as “the one with matted hair”. Shiva is also depicted wearing her locs free or wound in a braid in a shell-like fashion. So that her hairdo resembles a kaparda, or cowrie shell.
Nandi the bull is seen close to shiva. Seen here sitting in meditation with his right hand in the Abhaya mudra promising protection and blessings to his devotees.