Lt Murgen?s notes on Khinasi Culture: Family
|This article is an Observation|
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Khinasi » Khinasi culture » Khinasi Culture:Family
The Khinasi culture revolves around the family. All life is dedicated to advancing the interests of the family, instead of the individual. Sayim comes from family name as well as individual accomplishment. The contribution of the individual to the family even affects the Basarji language. From birth to age 7, a young male or female is simply referred to as ?child?- ?this is my child Khalid or ?his child Saya. After their Awakening ceremony, they are referred to as ?my son Khalid?, or ?his daughter Saya?. When betrothal is formalized, the references change to ?Khalid the groom?, or ?his bride Saya?. Bride and groom stay as informal titles until the young couple has their first child. Only then are they referred to as ?the man Khalid and his wife Saya.? The implication is that a Khinasi does not reach full status until they have a family.
Family is also more than blood. There are at least four distinct groupings of family.
Typically simply called the family, this is the blood family, all of those related by blood. This is the simplest to understand, and the most like other regions of Cerilia.
This suffix is always attached to a prefix denoting rank, for example ajazada for minor nobility, and tamounzada for royalty. Whichever prefix is used, the term Zada means ?the named family?. This expands the meaning of family to the in-laws and their families, and those retainers that have been ?adopted? by forgoing their last name and taking the diminutive. The diminutive ?bin? in a name associates someone with house. For example, Mazeen bin Ghazali indicates that while Mazeen is not a blood relation to the Ghazali family, his life is pledged to them. The poor often send their children to live with more wealthy families in exchange for training and a lifetime of security. Surrendering one?s name and taking a new one is considered an impressive honor to give the named family. In exchange for this honor, they allow the young child to learn valuable skills and have opportunities they would not have otherwise.
Kirvena is an unusual family tie. It occurs when two families of the same social level agree to sponsor and pay for the Awakening ceremony of the other. The two families have to have children of roughly the same age, but are unrelated by blood. The two families form a close bond, and the sponsor and child enjoy a long lasting relationship of friendship and un-fettered advice. It is also one of the main methods by which non-Khinasi find a socially appropriate way into the fabric of Khinasi society. Such a bond lasts until death of the sponsor, and families with existing Kirvena do not intermarry. This allows for increased solidarity and strength to both families while expanding the social interactions at that societal level.
Geirhou are groups of families engaged in the same or similar occupations. In many respects, they function similarly to guilds in other societies- setting prices and settling disputes, providing training, backing one another financially, etc. However, there can be several Geirhou addressing any one craft or profession in a given city. Alternatively, Geirhou cross political borders or encompass wide areas of undeveloped territory. They are powerful institutions, and the leaders of them tend to wield considerable wealth and power. People can spend their entire lives consumed with navigating up the rungs in their geirhou.
Note that orphans and orphanages are unheard of in Khinasi society. With such a large social structure, most children who lose their parents can find a home in the Zada, with the Kirvena, or with another family in the Geirhou. In those rare cases where no parentage is known, the Temple of Avani will find the child a home. It is common for religious orders, such as the Swords of Avani, to pledge to bring up such children.
The family has numerous traditions to honor the passing of individuals from one stage of life to another.
The common expression ?children make the family?s kettle whistle? is a clear identification of how important children are. The language itself does not call a young male a ?man? until he has fathered children. A woman is not truly considered a wife until she has a child. Infertile women often turn to Avani and her daughter Leira for assistance. Men who do not have children have difficulty taking their place in the community, seeing such difficulties as a shameful loss of Sayim. The one exception is anyone who has avowed themselves to the Temples. Even then, it is common practice to adopt someone as your child.
Pregnant women have a number of customs and superstitions around them. Most of these are geared towards keeping the woman healthy, and delivering a healthy child. The mother and mother-in-law take an active role in supporting the mother to be. They encourage good behaviors and discourage bad ones. They do so partially out of genuine concern, and partly due to the importance of correctly guessing the sex of the child. Much Sayim is passed between mother and mother-in-law as they speculate on the sex of the child.
They watch everything- the woman?s attitude and appearance, the movement and placement of the child in the womb, the location and intensity of the pregnancy aches and pains. But the woman?s diet is particularly noted, and catered to. Food cravings are seen as expressions of the baby?s needs. There are common phrases like ?Eat bitter food and give birth to a girl? and ?Eat sweet things and give birth to a cavalryman.? The mothers also encourage the woman to look at beautiful people, smell roses, and eat plenty of fresh fruit- apples, quinces, grapes, and green plums.
Pregnancy is the one time in a woman?s life where she is allowed to be in the sunlight largely unclothed. Exposing her belly to the sun allows the Light of Avani to shine upon the baby and feel its warmth. The garden is guarded by the mothers, allowing the pregnant women to sunbathe in privacy and peace. The mothers also keep the mother-to-be away from bears, monkeys, dogs, and camels. Fish is avoided, as are nuts and cheese. Coffee is seen as too strong for a pregnant woman.
It is a man?s role, largely, to stay out of the way. He is responsible, however, for refereeing between his mother and mother-in-law as they care for his bride. This can be quite trying, depending on the personalities.
Around the 7th month, the woman leaves the marriage bed and moves into a separate room, which is part nursery, part delivery room. They will stay here until the 40-day bath, or perhaps longer in the case of polygamous marriages. Women give birth at home, attended by the mothers and close friends. The woman?s hair is unfastened or unbraided, and the doors and windows opened. A small fire is made, and a kettle of water is boiled. Some traditions have various people holding and rocking the woman during birth- a woman who had an easy pregnancy, a friend who was still without child, or the older of the mothers. Shouting and screaming is encouraged. The sound is believed to be announcing the arrival of the child into the world.
After birth, the child?s umbilical cord clamped with a gold clamp and severed with a special silver knife. This knife is heated in fire, then cleaned with the steam from the kettle both before severing the umbilical cord and afterward. This knife will be kept as an heirloom of the birth.
During the next 40 days, the woman is treated as if she was still pregnant. Her mother?s watch and fret over her, with the one who correctly guessed the sex first being now clearly in charge. When the last piece of the umbilical cord falls away, the family holds a small ceremony. The part is wrapped in linen and cremated. The ashes are not added to the family sepulcher, but scattered by the father. Tradition holds that where they are scattered will influence the infant?s future;
- At the Temple- be devout
- At the bazaar- be successful in business
- At a stable- be lover of animals
- At sea- having wanderlust and a desire to seek great fortune.
Most Khinasi understand that the first 40 days of a child?s life are critical to their future health. Any sickness experienced by the mother or the baby and any failure to regain health within 40 days of giving birth as ?the falling forties?. Commonly understood precautions are to not allow mother and child to venture outdoors for forty days to avoid exposure, and to keep others in ill health- particularly those in their own 40 day window- from interacting with the mother and child.
Other less developed areas have a more disturbing superstition- the ?mother-snatcher? or ?baby-snatcher?: This is a small, feral creature believed to take delight in disturbing women and newborn babies during the first 40 days and sometimes even killing them. It is believed to live in stables, haylofts, mills, deserted ruins, or wells. More backward Khinasi use a number of practices to protect against the creature. Some of these practices are: Hanging brooms, onion, garlic, and prayer beads of entire blue stones in the room where the woman and newborn baby lie, or inserting a needle or packing needle under the pillow of the woman or newborn baby, or putting breadcrumbs and water in the room. Most educated Khinasi tend to see these as precautions to ward off bats, mice, and rats, which can carry disease.
Babies who make it through their first 40 days have a good chance of surviving. It is tradition for the family to take their first family bath on the 40th day after birth. This bath is seen as separating the mother and child, and is the transition from ?bride? to ?wife? and from ?groom? to ?man?. It is a special ceremony. A special section of the bath house is reserved. A man and woman take their child into the bath together. It is custom that they remain clothed. The bath is surrounded by the members of the Blood and Zada family. There, in the presence, of a witness from the temple, the child is given their full name. The couple then washes their baby with special soaps and oils. The group then breaks up, with the men going off to their bath, and the women and baby going to their side. In cases where the bath house has separate hours, the men leave the bathhouse to the women.
- A young child cannot be left alone. If it cannot be avoided, then a broom should be put beside the child.
- Small children should always wear at least on stone bracelet. Though the kind of stone varies, it is beloved that the bracelet will cause those of evil intent to avert their eyes, scrying on, or locating the child.
- Clothing of a child should never be left hanging overnight, lest the child become ill.
- A lock of the first hair cut from a boy child is carried in the pocket of father to increase good fortune for the family.
- If a baby clenches its fingers firmly, it becomes stingy in the future.
- When a baby is kissed under its foot, it is believed to walk early, when kissed on lips early to speak early, and when kissed on back of the neck to be obstinate.
- If a small child looks through the space between his/her legs, it means that a favored guest will return. Alternatively, if the child creeps behind furniture or other objects, it has the same meaning.
- A child who favors pens will become a scholar; knitting needles, a soldier; a coin, a merchant; or a cup, a priest.
The 7th birthday is considered a special moment in a child?s life. It marks the passing of infancy, and the start of childhood. Formal education begins, and so does training in a trade. Boys leave their mother?s side and follow their father. Girls take up responsibilities at home. A few days before the ceremony, the parent?s will hire hoodje to spread the news of the upcoming event. Selected members of the blood and 'Zada families are invited to the private portion of the event. But almost everyone of the same social circle is invited to the public part of the event.
The girls awakening ceremony is commonly called the Pledging. The important women in the young girl?s life will gather with her at the bath. She is treated to her first adult spa, and pampered. She is given gifts by those gathered about. Most will be simple, such as her own bath basket loaded with aromatic soaps and sponges. From her mother, she will be given the silver knife used during her birth. It is to be kept safe until she gives birth. Her mother also provides her with a brand new outfit to wear to the public party. It is typically as expensive and ornate as the family can afford. She will also receive a pair of anklets of precious metals, jewels and small bells. This will be the gift from her Kirvena, or father if there is no Kirvena.
In some regions, her father will provide her with a signet ring being their house?s insignia. In other regions, notably Aftane, they young lady will have a diamond shaped Henna mark placed upon her forehead. The use of henna marks to indicate marital status is common in certain regions. In all regions, her ears are pierced for the first time. Her friends will hire a chare (2 wheeled cart pulled by 2 people) and decorate it heavily with ribbons and bells. The young girl will ride in this chare back to her home. Tradition holds that this will be the first time she is allowed to travel by herself. The public party is a large feast in her honor. It is likely the only one in her whole life entirely devoted to her. Well-wishers provide gifts of jeweler and clothing. After this ceremony, the girl will be allowed to go to the baths with supervised groups of her friends. The young girls take great pride in their Awakening, and their sashaying around the baths is accompanied by the tinkling of their ankle bells. She is also allowed to select her own clothing, and accessorize with her own jeweler.
A boy's Awakening ceremony is more unusual, but no less special. It marks the moment when he no longer is under his mother?s thumb, and begins following the path of his father. This ceremony is not done in the baths, but in the home?s garden close to the family sepulcher. The boy is dressed in a special embroidered robe. Either his father or Kirvena cradles the boy on his lap. His job is to hold the boy tight and calm his fears. The silver knife from his birth is then used to circumcise him. Only his father, grandfather, Kirvena and his son, and the circumcising agent of the temple are present for this.
The child is then dressed in bright colors, typically crimson, and gifted with a signet ring and other jewelry. The child is carried and placed on a custom divan. Then the remainder of the blood and 'Zada families then enter the garden. The removed piece of foreskin is cremated and placed into the family sepulcher. This act formally connects the Sayim of the boy to the family, and the family to the boy. It assures him a place. After that, the divan is carried out into the courtyard for the public party. The boy is waited on and catered to as never before, and showered with gifts of clothing, jewelry, and coins.
Families who want to marry their sons begin looking out for girls shortly after their Awakening ceremony. They typically start with their relatives, neighbors and close friends. At the baths, the gentle tinkling of awakening ceremony anklets serves to attract the notice of the women to the young, available girls. The social interaction of the baths and the women?s coffee groups serve as the first line for identifying potential matches.
Once potential partners have been identified, a Dejilia is called. A Dejilia (?seeing the girl?) is the first formal act of a marriage proposal. It is a meeting of an agent or agents of the male?s family with the agents of the female?s family. These agents take 3 different types. First, and most common, is the male?s mother and grandmothers. Second, is the man?s Kirvena. Third, and common only to the highest levels of society, is an agent of the Temple, along with the Kirvena, mother, and grandmothers.
It is held at the young lady?s parent?s home. The young lady is not to speak, but instead to serve a formal coffee service to the assembled guests. This gives the male?s family a chance to judge the young lady and her receptivity to the potential match without being so crass as to inquire directly. Family history and genealogy is much discussed, to insure potential matches are not too closely related. This can be a concern in small villages as well as in highly stratified cities.
It is not uncommon for several Dejilia to be entertained for each young man or women. The families have a significant interest in making an appropriate match. A mismatched marriage is seen as a failing of the families more than of the couple themselves, and both families lose much Sayim in the eyes of their contemporaries. Both sides are given time to contemplate the match. Several months may pass. If the match is seen as inappropriate, the deciding side will host another formal coffee and explain the reasons for declining the match.
If a match seems appropriate, the couple then enters into the Gorus-hallal. During this period, all of the details of the wedding are established. The date, the dowry, where the couple will live, the position within the relative Zada are all established. If there are extenuating circumstances such as a lack of dowry, this is where they are considered. At this point, the couple is considered engaged to be married. Both the bride and groom-to-be change their wardrobe. The girls no longer wear ankle bracelets, and their signet rings are placed into a red silk pouch. This pouch is tied with ribbon and worn as a necklace as a sign of impending betrothal. In regions where a henna mark on the forehead is common, a red silk headband is worn over the mark. Young men cover their signet ring with a red ribbon. All other jewelry is removed. Tradition holds that doing so is a symbol of putting away childhood.
During this period, a Devotion ceremony is held. It is the first official meeting of bride and groom. Both men and women will prepare themselves at the bath and dress in their best clothes. The groom will arrive in a chare at the bride?s home. The two will then ride in the chare by themselves from the bride?s home to the groom?s home. This route may be circuitous, to give them a chance to talk. The couple?s chare is followed closely by one for each set of parents. At the groom?s home, they will have a feast.
In some larger cities such as Ariya, the tradition allows for them to travel instead to a formal restaurant reserved for the occasion. The two are allowed to sit beside one another at the dining table, with the parents directly opposite. Both parent?s present their opposite person a small bag of gems. As the meal progresses, the couple quietly compares the two gifts, selecting the stone or stones that will be made into their wedding rings. The rest is combined into one bag given to the bride?s family to pay for the wedding feast. Musicians perform and poets do readings of love poems during the event. Afterward, the two return to their respective homes separately.
It is only after this ceremony that the two are allowed to communicate. The two may exchange notes and private correspondence, but not meet. In many cultures, the friends of the bride and groom may ?accidentally? allow them to run into one another and share a quick meal from a street vendor, or a walk through the public gardens. There have been several books published that tell of famous matches, and the things shared between the two. The most famous is ?The Wedding of Sameh and Rahena?. It is a collection of the love poems Sameh of Andujar wrote to his bride telling of his love, her beauty, and how precious he held those few moments together.
The actual marriage ceremony is a 3 day affair for first marriages. The day before, the bride and her mother are excused from all household responsibility and spend the day relaxing at the baths. That night, the bride?s family hosts a ?henna party?. The bride, her mother and female siblings, and her closest female friends are joined by the bride?s future mother-in-law. The mother-in-law brings a silver tray bearing the henna ink and a roll of fine silk. After all the guests were assembled, the bride's future mother-in-law would roll out like a carpet before her a bolt of silk cloth that she had brought with her as a gift. The bride and her friends, carrying lit candles, would approach the guests while coins would be scattered over the bride's head as symbols of fertility.
The bride would walk along the unrolled bolt of silk cloth towards her future mother-in-law, take the woman's hand, and kiss it respectfully. Trays of fruits and nuts, pastries, and marzipan would now appear. Songs and ditties reserved only for henna-parties would now be sung in an attempt to make the prospective bride cry. In regions where henna marks on the forehead are used, the mark for childhood is removed. This ceremony can be a sad occasion, where relatives of the bride, particularly her mother lament the departure of the daughter from her parent?s home. The mother of the bride presents her daughter with her wedding dress.
The bride puts on her gown and her future mother-in-law will tinge her hands, face, and feet with henna designs believed to be good fortune. In more ?evolved? cities, these designs tie the dress and the woman?s features together, beautifying both. At this point, both mothers leave, and the gown is removed and set aside. This is followed by a joyous celebration, with much song and dance. It is not unusual for the closest friends of the bride to remain with her until the next morning, spending their last ?single? hours together. The bride?s friends often tinge their hands with henna as well, echoing the bride?s designs to share in her good fortune.
The men have a similar ceremony. Before dawn, the groom, his father and male siblings, and his closest friends will gather. They will carry a long pole decorated with many ribbons and the crest of the man?s family. This marriage pole is planted into the ground in front of the bride?s house. It is considered good luck for the ?planting of the flag? to be done without disturbing the bride?s household. After prayers, the day is spent at the bath, grooming for the upcoming ceremony. Then they go to the groom?s family for a party. The bride?s father arrives in a chare. Tradition holds that he should be angry at the planting of the flag, but the anger is nearly always feigned. He is escorted to a seat of honor next to the groom?s father.
The groom then spends the next portion of the event waiting on his father and future in-law, as women are forbidden at such events. The two elder men then take turns berating and belittling the groom, much to the amusement of the assembled guests. This is all done in good humor and such a scathing often turns to well loved friends and family. The groom?s deferential nature is certainly put to the test. It is the responsibility of the two older men to show the groom?s Sayim by not being gentle. In the end, however, both men will call the groom up and embrace him. They give a short farewell, praising the young man and welcoming the upcoming match. After that, they leave and the party gets going. Food and drink flow, and dancers and entertainers perform. The groom?s friends encourage him to rowdy and foolish behavior, feats of acrobatics, and wild dancing. More than one groom has greeted his bride with bumps, bruises, and pulled muscles.
The morning of the wedding, the groom and selected groomsmen go to the church before dawn, to pray and purify themselves. The groom is dressed in their finest clothing. In urban centers, it is becoming fashionable for the mothers of the nuptial couple to work in concert to insure that the clothing of the groom accents and harmonizes with the dress of the bride. In other areas, the groom simply wears the best clothing he can afford. A special coat called Pacalio is worn. This coat is typically brightly colored and embroidered, and represents the setting sun. It is traditional that the wedding rings are placed in the right pocket, then that pocket sealed.
Women spend the morning preparing themselves. Their wedding dress is the single most complex and beautiful outfit the woman will likely ever own. Two-paneled skirts are popular in many regions. These are cut in various styles and heavily embroidered. They are almost always made of velvet, with long skirts, shaped bodices and round necks. They were open as far as the waist at the front and worn over a blouse of helâlis, a cloth with a silk warp and linen or wool weft. The head was covered with a scarf of muslin or crepe, and a silver belt was worn around the waist.
In some large cities, this ensemble is being succeeded by wedding dresses made of taffeta or silk woven with silver thread, with long skirts cut on the cross, tight boned and corseted bodices, and capes. These were worn with scarves of crepe edged with needle lace. In winter knee-length fur-lined velvet coats tailored to fit the waist, and matching the color and embroidery of the dress beneath were worn. Shoes and bags were made of fabric or leather, again in matching colors and designs. A small portion of her Awakening gown will be incorporated into the dress, as an edge, a hem, or a panel. When she is dressed, she waits in the courtyard for her groom with her family and friends.
After morning prayers, the grooms family and friends proceed from the Temple to the bride?s family?s home. This is a raucous parade, with singing, drums, and pipes. To lighten things up, the doorway is sometimes blocked by a younger male relative of the bride. The boy sits on the wooden chest that carries the bride?s dowry, so it cannot be taken, and the bride cannot leave. A tip by the groom?s family solves this final hurdle, and the bride leaves her parent?s home to return to the temple.
The religious ceremony itself is a simple affair. The bride is lead to the altar by the head of her family, who removes the ribbon or takes the bag from the bride. The groom then proceeds down and joins her, then all of the groomsmen and bridesmaids. The presiding Temple official has them affirm their vows and willingness to marry, and rings are exchanged. Superstition holds that if the groom cannot break the thread securing the rings in his pocket, the marriage will be poor. This seldom happens, as it is the groom?s mother who does the sewing.
In some regions, the couple will then spend a few moments in the shrine to Leira, holding hands and praying for a marriage of passion and bliss. The Temple official then will give an oration on the virtues and responsibilities of married life. After the final blessing, all the assembled guests leave, followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. They assembled group then proceeds to the future home of the couple- whether it be at either of the parents, or their own home. The assembled group then feasts until late in the night, celebrating the new couple?s good health. The events of some nobility can last for several days.
The couple is allowed a few moments of peace in the empty temple. Then they take a chare to their new home. Tradition holds that they retire to their marital bed and consummate their relationship. They are not to join the party until afterwards. In most places, this time is taken to get to know one another while everyone else in their lives are occupied. It is the most alone and unbothered they will ever be.
Polygamy is condoned in Khinasi culture. If a man has sufficient wealth to maintain all of his wives in the same fashion, he is permitted to marry multiple wives. In practice, such marriages are usually done for social, political, or geirhou reasons. If there are children from the first marriage, additional marriages do not purposefully produce offspring. The newer wife is considered subordinate to the woman of the house.
People from other cultures often wonder whether arranged marriages work. Khinasi pride themselves on finding the perfect mate for their children. It is in the best interest of both families that a relationship be as pleasant, peaceful and fruitful as possible. They choose carefully, judging what they know about their child?s likes, dreams, and temperament. This is seen as far preferable than relying on the observations, intuition, and passion-influenced thoughts that course through a young person?s mind.
The Khinasi approach echoes the Lady as the light of reason. It is reason, it is forethought, it is right. Even after marriage, the families do much to insure the marriage is successful. Both sides of the family assist in child rearing. The 'Zada help maintain and run large households. The geirhou spread the wealth of their craft, assuring that people are supported in hard times. A man who devotes private time to his wife is seen as being a good husband. When a man decides to take another wife, it is done only after discussions with the blood relations and 'Zada. They need to support, or at least understand, the reasons for the necessity of the marriage. Families tend to defend and cover up things that may cause a loss of Sayim for the family, particularly in wealthy or noble families. Dalliances, financial indiscretions, certain illnesses, and loss of self-control are contained and handled within the family. More than one intemperate husband has had a bad slip when meeting with his in-laws at the bath after a bad episode at home.
Death is not seen as dirty or unclean, but a natural part of life. Concern for the causes of the disease may call for special precautions, but otherwise the death ritual proceeds as follows. After death, the body is moved to a secluded corner of the house. In wealthier houses there may be a special open-roofed room in garden area for meditation. It is used as place to die, and place to be prepared. The body is cleaned, and the eyes and mouth are closed. In some places, honey used to stick shut eyes and mouth. If flies are not seen on the body before cremation, death is said to be unnatural.
The body is then wrapped in linen strips, each limb individually. Professional body washers and wrappers are preferred, but are costly. Most regions use special linens blessed by Temple for this process. If professional washers are unaffordable or unavailable, then family does the wrapping.
Once the body is wrapped tightly, a white cotton sheet is placed over the body, and the rest of the funeral arrangements are made. A formal ceremony called the Menoc i Khirad is held some time later. When it is held is dependent on the availability of relatives and friends. The warm climate prevents excessive delays. The actual Menoc i Khirad is a formal ceremony held at the home of the deceased. It can last for a few minutes to several days, depending on the prominence of the individual. The body is placed on a raised platform.
Incense is burned at the four corners of the table. Individual mourners approach the body and place their right hand upon it. They speak of the dead, retelling a story that honors the individual, or give a speech praising his/her deeds. It can be brief, or lengthy, impromptu or prepared. The family seats close to the body, wearing long black cloaks and black hats or turbans.
During the Menoc, the family serves the visitors a Funeral Soup. In ancient times, the soup was crafted by younger members of family to sustain the senior members during their period of constant mourning over the body. Over the ages it was shared with those that came to give honor to the dead, and eventually grew into an expression of thanks to those that attend the funeral ceremonies. It is made of beef hearts and vegetables, very aromatic and slightly bitter. The soup is similar but slightly different between each household, and its recipe is one of the few family secrets never pursued- it is seen as a part of the family. It is provided to all who come to honor the deceased. In return, visitors often bring gifts of sweet or hearty breads, butter, or honey to accompany the soup.
When the visitors have largely passed, the family declares an end to the Menoc i Khirad. Visitors and extended family leave. The body is then laid on a pyre and doused with oil. The contents of the pyre will also vary with the individual, with more exotic hardwoods and aromatic plants indicating wealth. A representative of the Temple will say a brief prayer, the set the pyre alight. Followers of Avani see this as releasing the inner light of the individual. This light is the ?Gift of Avani?, and cremation is seen as returning that gift to the Goddess. Tradition varies as to when the pyre is lighted ? The Ariyans prefer a dawn lighting, to allow the two lights to blend for as long as possible. The Zikalans prefer lighting after nightfall, so as to not diminish the Goddess?s brilliance.
Once the pyre has cooled, the ashes are gathered and taken to the family sepulcher. These are typically large round urns, some taller than a man, where the ashes of the members of the family are co-mingled together. The mingling of the ashes is typically a very private family event in contrast to the larger spectacle of the funeral. This ritual represents the central role of family in all aspects of a Basarji's life. All they do, all they are, reflect on the family as a whole. For soldiers and travelers, the basic tenets of the funeral right are the same. Those who die away from home often make the last request that their ashes be returned to their families.
The Khinasi tradition does not seek to honor the dead after death. Statues and monuments so common to other cultures simply do not exist. It is seen as bragging for a family to honor its dead in that manner. There are three special cases where this tradition is not followed.
First is when the deceased is a cultural hero. In that case, the city or province leadership will pool their resources and present the honorific to the family. These are the statues seen in public places.
Second, is the giving of metal soldiers. Families who have soldiers and officers die in war will commission the casting of small metal figurines. These figurines will have the arms and armor of the individual. Tradition holds that the figure should not have a face, but be covered by its visor or a scarf to preserve the modesty of the family. These figurines are cherished by friends and family. The province of Mesire has a tradition that one of the soldiers be given to his commanding officer as a reminder of the costs of war.
Lastly, is the marker stone. Since the ashes of the family are co-mingled, some marker is desired to note their passing. These are either ceramic tiles or small carved stones with the person?s name and birth/dying dates. Frequently, a well known phrase or observation by the individual will be included on the tile. These tiles decorate the walls or floor in the area around the sepulcher. Tombstones are the most beautiful examples expressing the Khinasi?s rich inner world, fine taste, and deep thought. They are sometimes a history, sometimes lament, and express thoughts on goodness, beauty, folly, and the fickleness of history.
The final act of the death ceremony takes place 20 days after the cremation. At this time, the surviving spouse and family go to the baths. After the baths, they put away their mourning clothes, and life continues. If the deceased was a husband, his wife or wives will wear bracelets of black stones as a sign of their widowed status.
, 02-02-2009 at 04:35 PM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 12:12 PM
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