3 Ways South Asian Weddings Are Basically The Best Season Of Survivor Ever. This Is Survivor: Shaadi.

by Raj Desai | 11/15/21

Illustration of Shaadi Survivor logo over marigold garland

I’m not a morning person. But I’m trying to become one (#thingsineverthoughtidsay). 


Mostly because mornings at my house are a shitshow. 


Wrangling the dogs, who *are* morning people (morning dogs?). Chasing a screaming toddler. Unloading the dishwasher. Making breakfast for said screaming toddler. Brushing my teeth. Packing a lunch for the (still screaming) toddler.

50% of the time, my snooze button wins. But then there are mornings like today when I can enjoy a HOT cup of coffee with zero interruptions, and get some writing done. 


And instead of the ear-splitting screams of a nearly 2 year-old who has recently discovered the power of his voice 😩, I can fill the silence with the sounds of my favorite reality TV show—Survivor.


Before the pandemic, I never saw an episode. My only familiarity with the show was Ryan’s douchey yet hilarious humble brag on The Office: 


Anyone see Survivor season 6? You know Joanna on that show? In New York City, I hooked up with a girl who looked exactly like that. Indistinguishable.”

After my friend Janelle forced me to watch season 28 Survivor: Cagayan, and J’Tia did NOT get kicked off despite having DUMPED her tribe’s ENTIRE SUPPLY OF RICE INTO THE FIRE, I. Was. Hooked. The tribe has spoken, indeed. 


For months, everything in my life became a potential Survivor challenge. Not kidding. Just ask my husband (I’m really cool and he is so happy he married me, he swears. I made him).


Things like the muddy pre-construction lot next to our house. Trying to change my son’s diaper before he alligator death-rolls off the changing pad. Cooking dinner while dodging the thieving paws of my Australian Shepherd. 


And this morning it occurred to me—you want to know what’s *most* like a season of Survivor? South Asian weddings.

Yes! You know I’m right! Because what is a South Asian wedding if not an elaborate game of deception?! 


Yes, Uncle. I want to be a doctor.


Omg, cuz, your 10 minute solo dance medley was riveting and not at all attention-seeking!


MaMi Ji, It’s So GoOd To SeE yOu AgAiN!


Throw in challenges, twists, social games, and a wacky cast of unpredictable guests, and you have an unbeatable season of Survivor.

1. Challenges

Us Survivor nuts know allll about reward and immunity challenges. I am *convinced* that weddings are brimming with both.

Reward Challenges

Take for instance, reward challenges, which require you to successfully beat mental and physical hurdles to achieve your prize. 


Hello! Sounds like a reception buffet line to me. 🤷🏾‍♀️.


And we can’t forget the OG of all wedding challenges. Wonder where the groom’s joote are? 🧐

Immunity Challenges

Hey, you! I see you at the Friday night open bar throwing back drinks (…because I’m right next to you 👋🏾). 


Will you make it to the 9 am baraat the next morning, or face a hangover related elimination and have your torch snuffed? (That last bit is not a sexual innuendo, promise.) 


If you’re tasked with giving a toast or speech, you get to play in the secret immunity challenge! The one where you win or lose based on the stories you share in your wedding speech…👀 (skip college skip college skip college.)

If There's An Open Bar

Last is my favorite challenge of all—persevering for an hour of a closed open bar while suffering through endless reception speeches, toasts, and off-Bollywood performances. THIS IS WHEN WE NEED DRINKS THE MOST.

2. Social Games

When You're Married

I went to a wedding reception in July. My first since the summer of 2019. Except this time, I had my son in tow. 


We walked inside and smiled at the first Aunty we saw. She cooed sweet nothings at my son before turning to me with a glare to sternly say, “You need to have another one.” Oof! Talk about a punch to my pelvic floor.


With a forced giggle, I (take notes, kids) masterfully deflected to my unmarried, childless sister. 


Score: Me 0, Aunty 1. 

When You're Single

And for you single folk? Your social interactions are like minefields.


For example, at the 2019 summer wedding I went to, the priest loudly proclaimed into a mic from the mandap—during the wedding ceremony and in front of 400 people, no less—that the bride’s brother “is still single, girls!” 


CRINGE. But also, hilarious. 😆


If the challenges don’t get ya, the social games will. 😈

3. Twists

Okay, so Survivor season 41 might have killed the appeal of twists by including one every other minute, but seasons past have featured some excellent ones (tribe swaps! Returning players! Fire tokens!). 


Wedding twists…aren’t as fun. 


Don’t believe me?


You can ask the bride whose in-laws hired duplicate vendors from India who were SO BAD at their jobs, they had to be kicked out by the wedding planner. 


Or just ask me!

First Look

I got a nice twist when I walked into my Anand Karaj and saw 2 shrimpy, wilting orange flower bouquets at the base of my all white ceremony decor. 


Thanks for making the venue coordinator go to Trader Joe’s ‘cause you wanted more flowers, Mom! You fixed it! 😒

The Patriarchy

And who could forget my husband’s wardrobe malfunction? When he came out in the wrong turban and my relatives refused to change it without my parents’ permission. Twist! 🍿

I don’t know if I’ve done a good enough job to sell you on Survivor: Shaadi, but damn if I haven’t convinced myself all over again. 


And don’t worry, it’s not all bad. There are good challenges, social games, and twists too. 


Like the sweet kiss between my cousin and her husband exchanged during their first dance. Or the after-party at the hotel bar at my wedding, complete with DJ and dhol player


Even an NBA player! That made my husband’s night. And why wouldn’t it?! It’s not like he got married or anything. 🤦🏾‍♀️

And I’ll *never* forget the after-after-party in our hotel room, when a drunk, passed out guest fell out of the closet. How did he get there?! 


See the epiphanies that an early morning and hot cup of coffee bring?! ☕


What are your Survivor-worthy wedding tales? I’m in need of some laughs, so please comment with them below!

Raj Desai

Content strategist and UX writer who’s been researching and writing about weddings for 5 years. Addicted to Netflix, dirty martinis, and naps.

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