Vishnu is blue coloured and has four or more hands. He is shown holding two of his most characteristic symbols: the wheel and the conch-shell. He is always clothed in yellow. The wheel represents the Universal Mind and the powers of creation and destruction that form the revolving universe. The conch-shell is associated with the origin of existence through its spiral form and it connection with water. Vishnu also holds the club which symbolizes authority or the power of knowledge as the essence of life. He has an open upraised palm in the abhaya mudra, expressing reassurance. He sometimes holds a lotus and is also known as Narayan. His vehicle is ">Garuda (eagle) half-man, half-bird.
Vishnu is normally shown reclining on a bed made up of the coils of the serpent king, Sheshanaga, with Lakshmi/Shri, his consort, seated at his feet. Brahma is shown to have been born from a lotus springing from the navel of Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology a cosmological substance is left over from the last age of creation from which a new cycle may be brought into existence. This is symbolized by the many-headed serpent king. Shesha means the leftover floating on the ocean which is thought to be like the Universe.
During the interval in the cycle of creation, Vishnu lies asleep on the coils of Sheshanaga, protected by its hood, until he is ready to begin a new cycle.
According to another creation story, Shesha was used as a rope (twisted around the world axis resting on a tortoise) with which the gods and the demons churned the waters of creation.
Vishnu is a striking example of the way in which the changing demands of religious life in India brought about changes in the status of deities, or the qualities they represented. Although Vishnu is mentioned in the Rig-Veda, he became loosely associated with the sun and eventually, in the Mahabharata and the Puranas, he acquired a prestige that he has never lost. Ultimately he was invested with the qualities of permanence, continuity and preservation.
With the passage of time, Vishnu acquired the characteristics of several deities including a number of popular folk ones who were absorbed into the Vishnu cult in the form of incarnations. In the Mahabharata he became identified with Krishna in his more martial aspects but these were subsequently replaced by qualities of romantic love. Vishnu also took on the attributes of several deities in various animal forms such as the tortoise, the boar and the fish. It is likely that these developments took place slowly and were the result of the absorption of the cults that prevailed in different areas of India. Eventually these diverse elements became reduced and systematized into a group of twenty-four Vishnu incarnations. Some of the more common ones were used to form a small group often incarnations (avataras), viz, the Fish (Matsya), the Tortoise (Kurma), the Boar (Varaha), the Man-Lion (Narasimha), the Dwarf (Vamana), Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalkin.
Festival: Devuthani Ekadashi
Vishnu sleeps for four months, from June-July to October- November. This four-month period is also the time when many of the other gods are sleeping and it is considered unlucky to perform any ceremonies during this period. When Vishnu and the other gods wake up, it is considered the right time to hold engagements and marriages. To celebrate the event, various ceremonies are held and in some places a cowdung-cake fire is lit and people gather around it singing hymns.