"Nandi" (Lord Shiva's bull) - 21 interesting facts

Lapakshi temple. biggest Nandi (bull), Andhra Soul Esplanade
 Beautiful Nandi in Chamundi Hills, Karnataka  Native Planet
The word nandi has come from Tamil root word Nandhu  means to grow, to flourish or to appear which was used to indicate growing flourished white bulls as well as divine bull nandi. The Sanskrit word nandi  has the meaning of "happy", "joy" and "satisfaction (en.wikipedia.org)
17th Century sculpture of a Nandi in Mysore. en.wikipedia.org

The image of Nandi or sacred bull is closely associated with those temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The worship of Shiva- Nandi has been around for a few thousand years. It can be traced to even Indus Valley Civilization time period.  The presence of the famous 'Pasupati Seal'  that depicts a seated figure which is usually identified as Shiva and many bull seals  in Mohenjo daro and Harappa ruins (now in Pakistan) confirms this.  Nandi is described as the son of the sage Shilada who did yajna and Shiva granted the child with immortality. He grew as  a true devotee of Shiva. It is said that he had the honor of learning the divine knowledge of Agamic and Tantric wisdom  from none other than Lord Shiva from
goddess Parvati.
Nandi at Gangaikonda Cholapuram. en.wikipedia.org
Nandi at Gangaikonda Cholapuram.en.wikipedia.org
Above images: Brihadeeswarar Temple
Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Ariyalur Distt. TN was the capital of Chola Dynasty c 1025 for 250 years. Builder Rajendra Chola. In the image below, the nandi is facing the main shrine. This huge nandi does not have a shelter or mantap.............................

The following are  the various facts about Nandi worship: 

01. There is no Shiva temple in India that does not have a stone image of his mount - Nandi (bull). He may be placed in the open yard or may have a mantapam.
Vallasala Kanthalloor Sri Mahadevar Temple harekrsna.com
 Above image: At Vallasala Shiva temple, Kerala, the stone image nandi - bull is missing. Sri Mahadeva temple is a famous one in Kerala dedicated to Trinity gods.

02. At the Valiyasala-Kanthalloor Mahadeva (Shiva) temple in Kerala the god's mount Nandi is missing. His place is vacant. It is a rare Shiva temple with no Nandi.  Nandi is in the same compound, but is found facing a different deity. Annually,  Lord Shiva and Parvati go in a procession and stop by at  the near-by Thaliyal Shiva temple  to cajole the bull to come to his place for permanent residence.  (see: http://navrangindia. blogspot.in/2018/04/lord-shiva-in-search-of-bull.html)

03. At Shiva temples Nandi is either in the open yard or in the enclosure always facing the garbagraha in the main shrine.
Front view with Nandi shrine in foregrounden.wikipedia.org

Above image: Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur city (UNESCO Heitage Siote),Tamil nadu.;built by Raja Raja Chola (father of Rajendra Chola), 1010 AD.  Monolithic seated Nandi is facing the (mukh mandapam - garbagraha and is placed in the mantap. It weighs 25 tons, one of the very few largest nandis in India............... 

04. He is always seen in a comfortable sitting posture facing the direction of Eswaran. Seldom will you see a nandi in a standing posture in the temple. 

05. Because of his close association with Mahadeva, the ever-present Nandi  assumes divinity. This merger with Eswara  is called Nandeeshwara (Bull-God). Hence, praying to Nandi first before entering the main shrine of Shiva is a must and devotees follow this age-old tradition.

06. During Sivaratri Nandi flag is held continuously  throughout the  session. This practise is common among the Tamil people. 

07. Lord Nandi or the divine bull has a special place in Lord Shiva`s heart. Nandi is the one who is privileged to carry  flowers to Mt. Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva. Nandi is believed to be  a divine  Guru who has guided countless sages .  Praying to nandi  with devotion  can help you through many hurdles.

Pradosha day, nandi decorate with fruitscommons.wikimedia.org

Above image: Brihadeeswarar Temple Thanjavur  (Big temple), TN. Pradosha day. The big nandi - bull is decorated with several kinds of fruits, vegetables, etc., in kilos donated by the devotees.  Special abishekam and puja rituals are conducted to Nandi on this day without fail. A huge crowd of more than 3000 devotees will witness the event regularly. Pradosha puja  and Nandi worship attract people far and wide here as it happens to be a temple of great antiquity.....................

08. On the Pradosha day, praying to Lord Shiva and Nandi is good for you. Aarti is shown to them after puja rituals are over.  Nandi is well decorated with
fruits, cooked rice etc.

09. The bull is believed to be a symbol of stability standing on four legs, Sathya (Truth), Dharma (Righteousness),  Shanthi (Peace), Prema (love). 
Symbolically nandi reminds the devotees to strictly follow the four virtues to  succeed in life. Prayer to the Almighty alone will not help a man unless he imbibes good character, encompassing certain virtues.
Sri Tenkasi Kasi Viswanathar Temple,TN TripAdvisor
10. Nandi's sitting posture is  symbolic of humility. So, when you enter the place of God - Shiva, who symbolizes Shantham (Equanimity), Roudhram (Terror), Mangalam (Auspiciousness), and Uthsaaham (happiness and  energy), it is imperative that you must be submissive to the  presiding deity.

11. Shiva has no mercy for those people who have  pride, ego, arrogance, etc. (This is the reason why countless politicians avoid Shivasthalams. A good example is the Big temple in Thanjavur city).

12. The presence of Nandi facing the lord has spiritual connotations. Nandi,  an embodiment of Jiva,  is in front of the main shrine; it means  individual soul (jiva- Nandi)  must stay focused on Parameswara (Easwaran).

13. From the yogic perspective, Nandi is the mind dedicated to Lord Siva, the Absolute. In other words, to understand, experience and absorb Light, wisdom is needed and Nandi, being  a Guru here will guide you.

14. Nandi gained the divine knowledge of Agamic and Tantric wisdom from  Lord Shiva and his consort  goddess Parvati. He taught that divine knowledge to his Eight disciples (progenitors) who were sent to 8 direction to spread knowledge of wisdom as taught by Nandi. So, in the strict sense, Nandi is a Guru and will guide you spiritually.

15. As Eswara holds the poison in his throat (Neelakandan) to save the Devas from the poison churned out from the ocean, the lord gets pain in the throat.  To help the lord  relieve of his  pain during meditation, Nandi is said to blow the air  on to his throat. So, it is believed, that  Lord Shiva does his regular mediation with the help of Nandi. Hence Nandi is an integral part of Shiva worship.

16. Upon entering the temple, the purpose of man is to focus his attention to God in the sanctum as Nandi does, giving  least importance to Prakruthi.

17. It is not advisable that one should worship the lord (Shiva), in the shrine, by standing between Nandi and the God as the lord and nandi should have direct eye contact.  

18. Nandi Flag or Vrshabha Flag with the emblem of "seated bull" is believed to represent  the flag of Saivism. This is true of  overseas Tamil community.

19. Historically speaking, Nandi was the emblem of certain Tamil monarchs such as Pallava dynasty (275 CE 897 CE) and Jaffna Kingdom (also known as Aryachakravarthy).

official flag of Hindu Saivites -world over.en.wikipedia.org/
20. In Sri Lanka Nandi flag is declared as the official Hindu flag (of Sri Lanka).

Nandi playing on Mridangam mysore l vadiraj
21. Yet another interesting fact is according to Carnatic music lovers and players, Nandi is considered as the  great percussionist. He plays well on Mridangam.   It is a percussion instrument of ancient origin from India. It is the primary rhythmic accompaniment in a Carnatic music ensemble.
Nandi is said to have played the mridangam during Shiva's Primordial Tandava dance, causing a divine rhythm to reverberate  across the heavens (firmament). The mridangam is thus also known as "deva vaadyam," or "Divine Instrument"