Kurma Avatar – the tortoise incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu, the preserver.
Vishnu is the God of preservation or sustainer. He is one of the Hindu male trinity gods – Trimurti, the other two being Brahma and Shiva. He is believed to take various avatars or incarnations whenever the world is threatened with evil forces to preserve or protect the world. Vishnu incarnated as Kurma or tortoise during Samudra Manthan – the churning of ocean of milk. Devas (demi-gods) and Asuras (demons) once joined hands to churn the ocean of milk in order to search for the Amrit – the elixir of life. Mount Mandar was used as churning stick and Snake Vasuki as churning rope. Mount Mandar, however, began to drown in the deep ocean of milk, Kshir Sagar. Like all the incarnation, Vishnu again incarnates to save the world from this crisis and incarnates as Kurma, the giant tortoise. On his back, he supported the entire mighty Mount Mandar and Devas and Asuras began the churning. Kurma symbolises the importance of foundation in any activity to be sustainable. He is depicted here as half-human, half tortoise, four-armed Vishnu, holding Chakra (disk like weapon), Gada (mace), lotus, and Shankha (conch).