Indian-origin Australian resident, Maria Thattil, was crowned as the Miss Universe Australia 2020 in the first virtual pageant event of Australia.
Thattil is replacing the 2019 winner, India-born Priya Serrao.
27-year-old Thattil, born and raised in Melbourne says she couldn’t believe it when her name was called as the winner of the Miss Universe Australia 2020 contest, reports SBS Hindi.
“We had just come out of the lockdown in Melbourne and the finals which were scheduled to be held online, at the last minute, were allowed to be held in person in Melbourne,” Maria told SBS Hindi.
“There was just so much energy in the room after spending over 100 days in lockdown. We had so much going on. I was thrilled to be meeting the other girls and being with them and finally when my name was called out, to be honest, I was in a daze. I remember everyone surrounding me and giving me a hug and shouting that I had won,” she said.
The New Indian Express reports that Thattil’s parents are from India who immigrated to Australia: Maria’s father belongs to Kochi, Kerala and mother is from Kolkata, West Bengal.
Though Maria has visited India only once in 2001, she told TNIE that her upbringing was very Indian, though she took time to accept her identity. “I grew up in a Western environment, where I felt a strong need to fit in with my peers at school. I went through a phase during my teenage and early 20s, where I tried hard to mask elements from my culture to fit in."
But since that didn’t work out, Maria tried to focus on who she really was. “I started to just be who I am — an Indian Australian woman whose culture is a blend of both Eastern and Western ideals,” Maria told TNIE.
Other than being the current winner, Maria is also an Instagram influencer.
View this post on Instagram
How can you not beam with this exquisite piece of art in your hands? Privileged to represent my country wearing a Crown that does exactly that so beautifully. Being united with this Crown after a virtual Final was special. @stelios_jewellers partnered with renowned Indigenous artist @djurandi_dreaming to create a piece that serves as a tribute to our First Nations people. As a woman who prides herself on belonging to a multicultural society enriched by our powerful, rich First Nations history and culture - I cannot express the pride I feel wearing a Crown that honours the traditional owners of the land we live on. @missuniverseaustralia.official - thank you for the honour. Thank you @msfionabyrne for the wonderful chat (as always), @robleeson for the laugh and the great shots - and Mr Scott and the team at @sofitelmelbourneoncollins for their hospitality. Hair by @caterinadibiase at @headingouthair Dress @onsboutique (@lovenookie) Watch @christianpaulwatches #MissUniverse #Missuniverseaustralia
Mind With Me, an Instagram TV series that Maria created in response to a tense social climate amid 2020 now has 22 episodes and counting.
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