Why South Asians Love to Gossip

There’s more to the habit than tattling.

illustration of people talking gossip
(Shruti Ashok for The Juggernaut)

Ayesha Le Breton


May 28, 2024


8 min

In Never Have I Ever, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) has had it with the new girl, Aneesa Qureshi (Megan Suri). Aneesa is cool, can play soccer, and is good at school. She, not Devi, is now flirting with her long-time crush Ben. At a charity race event, Devi even sees Ben and Aneesa go into a tent together. Losing it, Devi tells a high school classmate that Aneesa is anorexic. By the end of the day, the rumor has spread like wildfire. Aneesa is in tears.

Merriam-Webster defines gossip as a rumor or report of an intimate nature. By some estimates, gossip accounts for at least 60% of conversations. But the exchange of tidbits, good or bad, seems particularly prevalent among South Asians, so much so that “aunties gossiping” on TikTok boasts more than 15.1 million posts. But it’s not just aunties who gossip. Uncles and younger folks also do it. And while gossip and rumors seem frivolous at best and harmful at worst, their roots in South Asia are far more complex.

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