Friendly Gestures

Two hands joined together in a demure Namaste has long symbolised the idea of India to the foreign visitor. When T3, the country's biggest airport terminal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, opens on July 15, the first batch of international arrivals will be greeted by more than a Namaste — they will walk by a row of installations showing mudras (hand gestures) derived from Indian classical dances and Buddhist and yoga postures.

" Nine mudras have been repeated to create a total of 24 installations. These range from the Abhaya Mudra which signifies blessing and greeting to the Prana Mudra which symbolises Life, from the Akash Mudra which points to the sky and air to the Mayur Mudra in honour of the national bird, the peacock," says Amit Krishn Gulati, 37, Director of the design team at Incubis, the Delhi-based interior design firm that was contracted by the DIAL to create installations and murals for the interiors of T3. An abstract flower in the centre of the palm represents energy flow.

Mounted on a 240 metre wall (located at the international and domestic arrivals), called Canyon Wall due to its bronze and copper finish, the installations would appear attractive even to a visitor ignorant of the subtle art of Indian symbolic gestures. Each work is around 9ft high and erected in a row 8-10ft above the ground. Six hundred and twenty three concave and convex aluminium discs on the wall reflect one's image as one walks past. "We worked on the theme 'Experience India'. We wanted the installation to create an instant impression that India is as much as about discovery as about fun," says Gulati, adding that his team worked closely with US-based firm, Landour, which specialises in branding for airports.

The team had created a list of 20 concepts for the T3 installation, from designs based on mandalas to textiles. "We narrowed down on the mudras since they have a universal appeal and derive from the secular aspect of India. Based on our research, we excluded several mudras that could have been construed as offensive by other nationalities," explains Gulati. The designing and implementation took more than a year, and the designers consulted scholars of Indian dance as well as books before artisans from Jaipur started working on the installations. The works have been fabricated in steel skeletons with moulds made of clay, resin and plaster of Paris. The female hand shape was deliberately used to create a more graceful look.

"Our brief was that the installations should communicate an Indian spirit with a global appeal and serve as a gateway to the country. This is why we restricted the design to palms without the cliché of associating it with a face or body," says Silky Arora, another designer on the team, who is busy coordinating with her team for a series of installations and murals that will be fixed at T3 in coming months.

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