Y Satyanarayana

Superstar Rajinikanth is associated with his celebrated "hand" gesture, both on and off-screen. From the time that Rajini announced his political debut, promising a revolution in the exisitng political scene, in all his public appearances--the one thing which stood out was the symbol in the background. Interestingly, it appears as if the hand gesture is placed on a white lotus, with a snake entwined around it. The big question being asked by Thalaivar's fans is--does the hand symbolize the logo of his party?

Rajini seems to be capitalzing on this gesture which is widely associated with him in popular imagination in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere. He first used the gesture in his famous movie, ‘Baba’ (2002) which he had produced and directed. Rajini plays a Himalayan saint reincarnated as an atheist in the film, but what caught the imagination of his fans the most was this gesture repeated several times in the film.

Significantly, in yoga, the gesture is called apana mudra which aids in detoxification and digestion, according to yoga teacher, V. Ramamohan Rao. It is an important part of meditative kriyas which soothe the mind and bring relief to the body in multiple ways, according to Rao.

That the snake is a powerful symbol in Hindu tradition, is widely known. All these elements add up to the factor of spirituality which Rajinikanth promises to infuse into our political life, as revealed in his New Year's address. Added to this is the fact that religion has tremendous mass appeal in Tamil Nadu notwithstanding the fact that the state gave birth to Periyar's Justice Party and Self Respect movement.

Some analysts argue that with Rajinikanth announcing that his party would contest all the seats in the TN assembly, the symbol would automatically get instant recognition in terms of public perception. Others say that it will take time for a symbol to find acceptance and for people to strike the association with Rajinikanth.