Lt Murgen?s notes on Khinasi Culture: Piety

DM Tips: Khinasi culture: piety

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Khinasi » Khinasi culture » Khinasi Culture:Piety

Praise of Avani is quite common in everyday life, even in areas where it is not state religion. Morning prayers at sunrise begin the day for the lowliest commoner to the Prince-Paladin of Ariya. Across the Khinasi lands bells and the voice of the Temple Monitor call people to prayer when the sun is at its zenith. The day finishes as people close their stores in preparation for the Sunset Prayer. Phrases honoring the Lady sprinkle conversation. Where Leira is worshiped, praise to her mother is common. In many cities in other lands, there will be one central church for their large city. This is true in Khinasi lands as well. A given city, however, may have numerous smaller chapels in addition to the main Temple. There are simply too many people, too spread out, to all worship in the same temple at the same time.


The Avaniahura is the philosophical base for the worship of Avani. Large portions are taken directly from the Canon of Avani, their holy text. It forms the basis of their legal system. Religious devotion and obeying the law are linked. The truly pious man fears not the law. The Avaniahura instructs that there are two opposing forces that underlie all conflicts. The Ashla Mainy (Main- ya), or "Bounteous Principle?, which represents the truth, order and growth, and the Drux Mainy (Droosh Main-ya) "Destructive Principle", which represents falsehood, chaos, and decay.
Ashla is seen as the equitable law of the universe the course of everything observable- the motion of the planets and astral bodies, the progression of the seasons, the pattern of daily nomadic herdsman life, governed by regular metronomic events such as sunrise and sunset. All physical creation is thus determined to run according to a master plan ? inherent to Avaniahura ? and violations of the order (drux) were violations against creation, and thus violations against Avaniahura.
This concept of ashla versus the drux should not be confused with the good-versus-evil battle evident in some other religious schemes, for although both forms of opposition express moral conflict, the ashla versus drux concept is more systemic and less personal, representing, for instance, chaos (that opposes order); or "un-creation", evident as natural decay (that opposes creation); or more simply "the lie" (that opposes truth, righteousness).
The Avaniahura is much debated and discussed. Such discussion is not seen as heresy. Avani is the Goddess of Reason, and to apply reason to uncover the underlying rational basis for all things is a noble calling.


Leira is the patron goddess of warmth, passion and art. She is beloved by the Khinasi, who see her influence in all their greatest creations. Many temples of Avani will have shrines to her. Craftspeople who design public fountains and gardens often include an area dedicated to her where visitors can kneel and pray. Craftspeople and artisans will have small niche or display cabinet engraved with prayers of thanks to Leira. In these areas they will display what they consider their masterwork. In some regions, there will be individuals who are considered a holy person of Leira. These people, usually women, have devoted their lives to helping others find warmth, passion, and their creative drive. They coach the nervous speaker in oration. They advise the clothier on cut, sometimes serving as models. They advise husbands and wives on bringing love into a home and passion into a marriage, sometimes quite explicitly. Other regions frown upon this last practice, seeing it as akin to prostitution.

[top]Other gods

While all regions have a state religion, most areas are quite pluralistic in attitude. The gods exist, in all their forms. Avani instructs to apply reason and temperance, so churches to other gods are tolerated. Most cities simply make them pay an extra tax, in addition to the land tax. Prophets and seers are frowned upon outside of the established church. They are seen improper. The practice of magic is accepted, as it does not have the religious implications or superstitions it has in other regions of Cerilia. Necromancy, however, is forbidden and strictly punished. Undead are an affront to Avani, and the precepts of the Avaniahura. They embody Drux. Similarly, worship of Kriesha is strictly forbidden. Kriesha stands in opposition to everything Avani stands for. Religious texts and treatise around Kriesha can occasionally be found in private or Temple Libraries. It is a case of knowing one?s enemy.

[top]Piety and Bathing

Since many festivals require extensive food preparation and house decorating, the evening of the day after a festival is celebrated by women where they gather to talk of their celebrations. Khinasi also believe strongly in healing and purifying power of flame. Many bath houses will have a flame room- a room where walls are lined with small fires, with seating in middle. Sit amidst the flames and relax, meditate, recite prayer and purify spirit before going into baths and cleaning body.

[top]Telling of the grounds

The Khinasi do not favor fortune telling, seeing it as diminishing the Lady?s Light of Reason. But an exception is typically made for coffee grounds. Tradition states that after the guest has consumed the coffee and the cup is turned upside down on the saucer and allowed to cool, the hostess then performs a fortune reading from the coffee grounds remaining in the cup. The spice Avaonalia is not just added for flavor. As it cools, it crystallizes around the small bits of coffee, forming small prisms. The cup is then held in the sunlight. The pattern of the prisms and the light they cast is often used to interpret the past and foretell the future.
While there are many variations, the process is similar to what follows. When the coffee is finished, the saucer is placed on top of the cup. With the saucer covering the top, the cup is held at chest level and turned from east to west 1 full rotation, as if following the sun. It is then turned upside down on the saucer, and left to cool. Once it is cool, the diviner opens the cup and holds it in the sunshine.
For divination purposes, the coffee cup is considered in two horizontal halves. The shapes in the lower half talk of the past, whereas shapes in the top half talk of the future. The shapes on the right side are usually interpreted positively, while shapes on the left are interpreted as signs of bad events, enemies, illnesses, troubles, and the like.
Some interpretations are:
  • Cup hard to separate from saucer - person will have luck, and fortune is not needed.
  • Coffee drips from cup to saucer- person is soon to shed tears.
  • A chunk of grounds falls from cup to saucer- troubles will leave soon.
  • Most of the grounds are in one section of the saucer- most of the home will be at peace.
  • The grounds are widely scattered on the saucer- small problems will be everywhere.
  • If the prisms are scattered, many people will assist you in times of trouble.
  • If a single large prism is seen, Avani will bless you with an unexpected gift.
  • If no clear prisms can be seen, outside events will trouble your house.

All of this is done for fun, and great care is taken not to offend or trouble the drinker too much.


Tesepiha are prayer beads used to indicate the times to pray and which prayers to say. In their simplest form, they are a collection of beads strung together. There are two kinds, a 33 bead Tesepiha and a 99 bead Tesepiha. They will always contain a disk showing the start, a special bead separating the 6th and 7th stone, and an elongated piece marking the 1/3 and 2/3 positions through the strings. The end of the Tesepiha will have a tassel.
They are made from a wide variety of materials and by a wide variety of craftspeople. The quality of the materials and the skill of the maker both combine to determine its value. The smaller the individual bead, and the ornate design of each bead, is an excellent judge of the craftsmanship. The best tesepiha makers bring much Sayim for their skill at carving the beads. Drilling the holes through them is one of the most difficult parts, the finer the hole, the more skill being required. Horozun Salih was one of the most renowned.
Each region, each city, tends to have their own preferences. Many prefer silk thread, others more sturdy linen thread. Some prefer precious metals- gold, silver, elephant or walrus ivory, whale or shark tooth, meerschaum, tortoiseshell, coral, or mother-of-pearl. Others prefer stones- rock crystals, pearls, olive, and date stones, gems of various kinds. Still others prefer wood- snakewood, ebony, agalloch wood, sandalwood, bloodwood, olive, rosewood, m'kunguni, tamarind, tulip wood, satinwood, sugar maple, or teak. The beads may be fitted with bands, engraved with inscriptions, and otherwise decorated, before being strung together. Tesepiha made of fragrant woods are kept in closed boxes to retain the fragrance.

[top]Festival days

The Khinasi have many festivals, and it seems someone is having a party almost every day, for one reason or another. There are 7 main festival days called for by Avani.

[top]Shabla-i-Yalda: New Year's Festival

This feast celebrates the New Year, and is held on the day of the Spring Equinox. During this festival, astrologers present growing season calendars to their lord. Many apothecaries sell ?year salves? a string of specially blended items in 12 small jars. Each month, bread is baked with these items and consumed to bring health to family. That morning, before the sun rises, people go down to sources of fresh water and wash their hands and faces. In warmer regions, girls tie their thumbs together with a cord and jump into the water. They cut the cord and throw it into the water. This is believed to bring them good luck for the following year. Those coming from the waterside will collect seven small stones from the lake or riverbed. Then, at home, the stones will be arranged in a seven-pointed star near family sepulcher.

[top]Sizdah Beda: Nature Day

During this festival, trees are planted, gardens renewed, and farmers and ranchers show off their prize livestock. It is an opportunity to celebrate nature and its reflection of the Avaniahura. People from large cities take trips into the country. No food is cooked during this day, and the Khinasi eat only fruit, nuts, berries, and other foodstuffs taken directly from nature. It is held on the first day of the new moon in the month of Talienir.

[top]Jashan Narou: Summer Fest

The Summer festival honoring Avani and Leira on the longest day of the year, coinciding with Haelyn?s Festival in other parts of Cerelia. It is a day to celebrate all that logic and reason, passion and art, bring to society. The Geirhou have contests to judge the artistic merit of their individual?s best works. It is considered good fortune to buy items to decorate one?s house on this day, and markets overflow with goods. It is the one day each year that the amateur artist and hobbyist can present their works alongside the professionals without fear. The Geirhou host public speeches and forums discussing their crafts. It is the only day each year that there are no prayer services. People are expected to be outside to greet the rising of the sun, and stay outside well into the darkness. Tradition holds that a rainy Jashan Narou is a sign that nothing worthy has been produced that year. More urban Khinasi just accept inclement weather as natural, and work around it.

[top]Sadehi: The Festival of Fire

This is the only festival that occurs entirely at night. It is also the most private of the festivals. Families gather around the sepulcher as night falls. A large fire is lit near the urn, and aromatic woods and brush is added to the fire as it burns. Members of the family take turns telling the family stories and history. The fire represents the light of Avani that once was part of each ancestor. In certain regions, the flow of the smoke or the crackling and popping of the fire is believed to be the voices of the ancestors commenting on the speaker. One common folk tale tells of a man who maligned the deeds of his grandfather, only to have a piece of hot ash pop out of the father and land on his hat, setting it on fire. Later in the evening, people will travel to other homes to honor the Azajda and Geirhou?s prominent deceased. It is common practice to bring cold foods and pastries as a gift. In ancient times, this holiday?s date varied by the phases of the moon. But it was set on the on the 20th of Anarire, allowing for one week of reflection before starting the month of Deismar, the month of heroism.

[top]Mehergan: The harvest Festival

The autumn festival is held on the Autumnal equinox. Similar in many respects to the summer festival, this is a chance for farmers, herders, ranchers, and the amateur gardener or cook to show off the fruits of their labors. Markets overflow with the finest produce, and many contests are held to judge the biggest and the best. People will fast in the morning until after noon prayer. From noon prayer to evening prayer people devote themselves to feasting. The Geirhou involved in food preparation show off their latest dishes, offering samples to passers-by. Extreme food combinations and experimentation is extolled. Evening prayer brings an end to the festivities, and many a prayer asking for the wisdom to not overindulge anymore.

[top]Trigan: The Water Festival

Here people celebrate the healing and restorative powers of water. In many places, the late fall through spring is met with cooler temperatures and less rainfall. Many believe that the root of this festival comes from the ancients trying to insure the return of the rains in the spring. No fires are lit that day. People gather together to sing songs and play music. Music?s rhythm and flow, its combining individual streams of sound into a cohesive whole is seen as an analogy for water. The young swing from swings and fly kites with long streaming tales. As night falls, a large basin is filled with water, and the unmarried boys and girls in the family gather around it. Each one tosses a ring into the basin. The youngest child who can read then closes their eyes and reaches for a ring. After pulling it out, they read a quatrain from the Trigan Barayak, A long collection of verses. The message in the quatrain applies to the person whose ring was withdrawn. The mispronunciations and misinterpretations by the youngest child are considered part of the fun. It is held on the 2nd day of the full moon in the month of Emmanir.

[top]Charshan: The Basarji New Year

The Basarji New Year. Due to the decades of oppression by Auineire, the Khinasi calendar starts in Spring like the rest of the Cerelia. In the minds of the Khinasi, the second full moon after the longest night of the year is traditionally the start of the New Year. By this time, it is evident that the days are getting longer again. This is seen as the re-ascension of Avani. During the day, people fast. They will only drink plain water to sustain themselves. The day is spent in prayer, from sunrise to sunset. No work is done this day. After sunset, a fire ceremony is held. Some have men leaping over and through bonfires; others have both men and married women walking on hot coals. In all instances, passing through fire is seen as a symbol of leaving the bad of the previous year behind.

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