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Why is there a Shiva statue at CERN Switzerland ?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

Shiva statue at CERN Switzerland

On 18 June 2004, CERN unveiled an unusual new landmark, a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Lord Shiva

The statue is a gift from India, celebrating CERN's long association with India which started in the 1960's and continues strongly today. It was unveiled by the Director General, Dr Robert Aymar, His Excellency Mr K. M. Chandrasekhar, Ambassador (WTO-Geneva) and Dr Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Dept of Atomic Energy, India.

The Shiva statue in the Nataraja form symbolizes Shakti, or life force. A plaque alongside the statue explains that the belief is that Lord Shiva danced the Universe into existence, motivates it, and will eventually extinguish it.

Carl Sagan drew the metaphor between the cosmic dance of the Nataraja and the modern study of the 'cosmic dance' of subatomic particles.

The statue was made in India. The original sculpture was a wax model, around which a soil mold was made. Melting the wax left a hollow into which liquid metal was poured. Once cooled, the mold was split and the statue polished and given its antique finish.

The statue is on permanent display in the square between buildings 39 and 40, a short distance from the Main Building.


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