In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, you know who’s who right away. Men who sport three horizontal stripes of holy ash on their foreheads and arms, for instance, are most likely members of the Brahminical subset known as Iyers.
That's true even if they have yellow skin. Say hello to Homer Iyer, the Hinduized animated icon. Homer Iyer differs from his progenitor in a few ways: instead of donuts, he craves vadai, the savory (and circular) fried snack from South India. Instead of a towel, he wraps his bare legs in the male coverup known on the streets of Chennai as the veshti, in the particular way all Iyer men do.
Homer Iyer, midway through the classic Southie snack of vadai dipped in spicy chutney.
To those in the know, it's the precision of the detail in Sasank Gopinathan’s series, The Simpsons Iyers, which the above images come from, that makes it so funny. In the two weeks since the Malayalee furniture designer uploaded his tweaked version of Springfield's finest onto the art network Behance, it’s racked up nearly 20,000 views.
"She reminds me of my niece," says Gopinathan, of Lisa in the "typically South Indian" combo of paavadai and dhavani, with bell-shaped jhumka earrings.
Gopinathan didn't expect his work, cobbled together using a photo editor and images found online, to go viral. It was commissioned by his mother, a sari designer who hand-paints her fabrics. She will transfer the images to a sari requested by a Simpsons-loving Tamilian client living in Singapore.
Marge Iyer wears her sari in a rarely-seen arrangement unique to Iyers, known as madisar.
The mashup is a little subversive, which undoubtedly plays into why people like it. Even in a deeply religious country, Iyers, who worship the Hindu god Shiva and traditionally pray three times a day, are considered extremely devout. Speaking from his home in Calcutta, Gopinathan theorized that the stark contrast appeals to Indian audiences, of a “typically American family” -- at least by pop cultural standards -- “suddenly transformed into a traditional orthodox Brahmin family.”
It’s fair to assume the final product will be the first Simpsons-themed sari ever. (As the series proves, Indians take the sanctity of clothing seriously.) But Gopinathan isn’t nervous about derailing the evolution of the garment.
“I’m not a very fashionable person,” he told HuffPost with a laugh. “I just do as the client asks.”