M.I.A.’s Super Bowl Middle Finger Was a Spiritual Act

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M.I.A. performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show
M.I.A. performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

“In America you have gang signs, and people throw up initials and stuff like that. Well, 5,000 years ago, there was thing called a mudra, which is your sitting position when you do yoga or you're meditating or praying or whatever. And you have different ones based on what you're meditating over. There's not a lot of them that are named after gods and goddesses, but the middle finger is specifically named Matangi — the Matangi mudra.” —M.I.A. is still explaining her infamous Super Bowl hand gesture.