Interpreter of Maladies: Rituals and routines
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1/ They signify, often, the social class of the character. In some cases, also the caste of the Indian character.
2/ They also give many of the stories their plot points and/or conflicts -- where a character is forced to or required to deviate from a ritual/routine, and what that means to him/her.
3/ Where the characters have been transplants/immigrants to the US, the rituals/routines are also a way for them to hang onto their past lives -- the little bits of themselves they refuse to fully assimilate into the new culture until they have to.