Indian-Australian women ran Sydney’s City2Surf marathon wearing sarees

“For me it’s about challenging stereotypes and a dedication to my Amma who passed away last year, who loved life."

Adding a dash of Indian tadka to the largest fun run in the world, a group of Indian-Australian women took part in City2Surf in Sydney draped in their beautiful six yards. They are all members of Sydney based ‘The Saree Club’.

In an attempt to break stereotypes ten members of The Saree Club took part in this fun run – Ratandeep Kaur, Deepika Gandhi, Aravinda Chaparala, Punita Yadav, Rupa Parthasarathy, Sai Repaka, Manisha Uphadyay, Eshwin Prasad, Deepali Gupta and Winky Gill.

L to R – Deepali, Winky, Dipika, Eshwin, Ratan, Rupa, Sai. Manisha, Aravinda and Punitha

Rupa Parthsarthy was among them. She is the founder of the creative wellness studio ‘Mindkshetra’ This was Rupa’s 2nd City2Surf in a Saree and 4th run overall. Talking about the run she said,

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“For me, it’s about challenging stereotypes. And a dedication to my Amma who passed away last year, who loved life. There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to women, women of colour, sarees, women in fitness, South Asian women who wear sarees you know the list.”

L to R: Aravinda, Ratan, Sai, Eshwin, Rupa, Punitha

The theme was to wear culture as a cape rather than a shackle, and promote ‘Acceptance of culture and inspiring change through fitness’. And embracing a Saree, and wearing it as a cape is part of a personal exploration journey for me, and a way to challenge the perception of women who wear sarees” added Rupa.

Another member of The Saree Club who took part in the run was Ratandeep Kaur:

“I am participating in Saree for City2Surf for the first time as I want to give a challenge to myself that if we have the willingness to do and are committed we can surely walk in a saree for 14 km or maybe more than that,” said Ratandeep. She added “Never Give Up. Nothing is impossible as the word impossible itself has possible in it.

Ratandeep Kaur and Sai Repaka

Eshwin Prasad said that she wanted to do City2Surf in the past but never got to it.

“Doing it in saree is exciting as I love wearing saree and I find saree a versatile wear which is not restricted to certain events only.”.

Sai Repaka works in child care and has been in Sydney for 24 years, she said,

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“Been in Sydney for 24 years but never did the City2Surf. Now I feel it was meant to be done in a saree with my saree sisters…I want to show my grand children very proudly this moment.”

Winky Gill works in the IT sector, talking about the run she said,

“In India I had participated in marathons when my kids were quite young and i remember the thrill and excitement. So last year when I got the opportunity to participate in City2Surf and that too in my favourite attire, the saree, I didnt think twice. The whole experience was awesome and that motivated me to participate again this time.”

Punita Yadav is an athlete and was a state champion for 4 years in Gujarat during school days in India. She says that finishing this walk has reinforced her belief in herself and her capabilities.

“In 2022 I was recovering from a backache episode and I set a challenge for myself to walk the City2Surf with my Sarees sakhis. Although I signed up for City2Surf with an intention to drape a saree at an event, it was also a personal challenge to myself to walk that distance. 

Starting in 1971 with just over 2000 participants, City2Surf has become the world’s largest fun run attracting more than 80,000 participants from across the globe.

‘The Saree Club’ founded by Indian-Australian entrepreneur, Poornima Menon, is a network of women who share their love for sarees through stories, culture, traditions and memories. Along the way they also empower and educate each other on social issues.

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