I attended the Darshan Festival in Tuscumbia, AL. In the midst of the vivid colors of the artistic renderings of India, my eyes took me to a contemporary offering, the hands of Labdhi Shah. When she defined the nature of capturing the beauty of the expression of Indian hands, I had to ask her to contribute to our celebration of culture. Welcome and gate open, Labdhi Shah. – Victorine
In India, from our very first greetings to our most intimate religious observances, our hand gestures or “मुद्राएँ” form an integral part of our lives. India is home to almost all of the world’s religions and has been the birthplace of many of them — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism to name a few. The “मुद्रा एँ” associated with our religious observances are living symbols of faith that still carry the meaning assigned to them centuries ago.
My artwork is inspired by my own religious experience and is centered on the theme of spiritual transformation. In my current series of works, I wanted to explore the feelings embedded in the “मुद्रा एँ” associated with our deeply intimate religious observances, where we endeavor to be our most truthful selves. These “मुद्रा एँ” serve almost as a spiritual conduit which help bring out our most truthful selves during our moments of worship. I am interested in exploring how the feelings evoked by these “मुद्रा एँ” help transform our minds from a place of hustle and bustle toplace of quiet contemplation.
In these works, I use only the primary colors—which are enough to generate the entire spectrum of colors—since I associate spirituality with something that is basic and minimal much like the austerity and honesty of monastic life. I use watercolor as a medium because I want to show the lightness of these gestures, and convey their sense of purity, the transparency of honest feeling.
The word ‘Namaskar’ is derived from the Sanskrit root word “namaha” meaning paying obeisance (Namaskar) or salutaioon. In the Indian tradi4on, this gesture is to greet and show
respect and is a praying mudra.
The vitarka mudra in Buddhist iconography symbolizes the transmission of the dharma, or the
teachings of the Buddha.
In Islam, raising hands in Dua is to invoke Allah (God) in a prayer of invoca4on, supplication or
request, even asking help or assistance from Allah.
Jain Diksha acceptance — Monkhood
In Jainism, the act of accepting the Ogho (one of the few possessions of a monk) is the moment
of renouncing the world and being accepted into monkhood. This gesture shows the
acceptance of the Ogho.
About the Artist:
Labdhi Shah is an Atlanta-based visual artist, whose work is centered on the themes of spiritual union and transforma4on. She grew up in India, and received her BA in Economics from Fergusson College, her MA in Clinical Psychology from Indira Gandhi Na4onal Open University,and her certification in Arts-Based Therapy from BAPU Trust. A self-taught artist, she began a dedicated artistic practice in 2012, and her works have been exhibited at art galleries in India and USA.
She believes that art is the most honest way to communicate to people. She works with a variety of media including acrylic, watercolor, chalk pastels, and oil, on paper, canvas and textiles, to create paintngs as well as installation pieces.