Fasting, Feasting

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Mira-masi is the widowed, religious wife of an elder cousin of Papa's family. She has dedicated her life to her worship of the Hindu god Shiva, and spends her days traveling the country, making pilgrimages to sacred rivers and temples. Untethered by the authority of either husband or any other male relative, Mira-masi has more freedom and independence than any other female in Uma's family. Fanatical in her devotion, Mira-masi lives a simple life focused almost wholly on her religious rituals. Uma admires Mira-masi, who is kind and attentive to her, and sees her as especially chosen by the Lord Shiva. MamaPapa disapprove of Mira-masi, seeing her religion as too traditional and disapproving of her independent lifestyle. Mira-masi tries to free Uma from MamaPapa by bringing her with her to an ashram, and even fights Ramu when he comes to bring her back.

Mira-Masi Quotes in Fasting, Feasting

The Fasting, Feasting quotes below are all either spoken by Mira-Masi or refer to Mira-Masi . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Fasting, Feasting published in 2000.
Chapter 4 Quotes

To Mira-masi, the gods and goddesses she spoke of, whose tales she told, were her family, no matter what Mama might think (…) Uma, with her ears, and even her fingertips tingling, felt that here was someone who could pierce through the dreary outer world to an inner world, tantalizing in its colour and romance. If only it could replace this, Uma thought hungrily.

Related Characters: Uma, Mama, Mira-Masi
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

In this flashback scene, Uma meets with her distant relative Mira-masi, a surprisingly independent woman who has devoted herself to worshipping the god Shiva. Uma's parents are (in some senses) modern, practical people, and they don't have a lot of patience with Mira-masi. Uma, however, is naturally attracted to Mira-masi: she's mystical, creative, dreamy, and generally the opposite of MamaPapa. Where MamaPapa encourage eating meat (the "modern" way), Mira-masi practices traditional Hindu vegetarianism.

Why, exactly, does Mira-masi's way of life seem so attractive to Uma? Uma doesn't like her life with MamaPapa, and she itches for an escape of any kind. Mira-masi is different enough from Uma's parents that she must be better: Uma is hungry for adventure, excitement, and sincere emotion, and Mira-masi seems to have plenty of all three.

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Mira-Masi Character Timeline in Fasting, Feasting

The timeline below shows where the character Mira-Masi appears in Fasting, Feasting. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
...flashes back to Uma’s childhood again, to her memories of visits from her distant relative Mira-Masi. To Uma’s great admiration, Mira-Masi, the widow of a disgraced family member, has dedicated her... (full context)
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Tradition/India vs. Modernity/West Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
Mira-Masi carefully cooks her food separately in her own stone oven outside, and while MamaPapa frown,... (full context)
Chapter 5
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Loneliness and Togetherness Theme Icon
The story flips back to Uma’s young adulthood. Mira-Masi has grown older and weak with fever. She comes to visit the family, and Mama... (full context)
Gender and Social Roles Theme Icon
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
...stayed much longer than they expected, and they are imagining her to have been kidnapped. Mira-Masi prepares herself to face down Ramu – who she sees as a hooligan for his... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family Life and Individual Freedom Theme Icon
Plenty/"Feasting" vs. Want/"Fasting" Theme Icon
Mira-Masi makes one of her final visits to Uma’s family. Uma asks the now aged Mira-Masi... (full context)