The Sari Crusaders

The Sari School collaborated with VegNonVeg, India's first multi-brand sneaker store on a saris x sneaker workshop. (The Pond)

“In my first performance, I wore my mother’s sari,” recalls Alex Mathew, a communications officer from Bengaluru, India who is more famously known as their drag persona Mayamma. “That was how I was able to start my journey as a drag queen. I feel a sense of empowerment when I wear a sari, which is why I position myself as a very powerful matriarch.”

Alex performs almost only in saris.

For many in South Asia, the sari is an iconic coming-of-age garment, the first step into adulthood and independence. Though the sari will never become completely irrelevant, it's at a critical juncture today. Young urban women can see it as impractical, a garment restricted to weddings and graduation ceremonies. It is assumed to be “traditional” Indian attire, weighed down by the assumptions of demure femininity. 

Alex Mathew/Mayamma in their mother’s sari during his first drag performance (Alex Mathew)

But for a garment as ancient and culturally charged as the sari, it is surprisingly modern, especially by today’s standards — its size-agnostic, heirloom pieces are preserved and passed down for generations and it is widely accepted by the queer and trans community. So it is n

Get access to this article and many more at The Juggernaut. No ads, no clickbait — just smart writing.

The Juggernaut tells untold, smart South Asian stories and news you won't find anywhere else.

The Weekly

It’s like your other email briefings. But browner. Join thousands and get the best newsletter that curates the global news on South Asia(ns) every Sunday. We also send updates on events, giveaways, our original reporting, and more. Unsubscribe anytime.


Business & TechCultureEditor's PicksOpinionPoliticsSports
Privacy PolicyTerms of Use