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 Post subject: Oleric Round Temples
PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:15 pm 
Avisaru
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This is a quasi-ethnographic account of a specific religious building/institution of the monotheist religion of Olerism, as practiced by (among others) Eolians, speakers of my principal conlang (High Eolic). Enjoy...

The Oleric Round Temple

Oleric Round Temples (šayhâna) are centers of community religious life for Oleric believers, and are extremely numerous in all locales where Olerism is a prominent creed. In theory, anyone can start up their own Round Temple, as long as they have a jug of water, two fires, and can guarantee recitation of Taršemâ verses during daylight hours, as stated in Sôyhemi 22: 13-20 (and expanded upon later in greater detail by Rînayh). In practice, such temples are permanent fixtures, usually built of marble or other types of stone. Their construction can be financed by Great Temples, rich patrons, or local communities themselves.

As their name suggests, Round Temples are round in shape, and usually involve a flat roof or dome suspended on columns arranged in a circle. Inside the circle, there is a slightly raised stone (or packed earth) platform. This may or may not be enclosed by walls, as a separate room with two doors (at the eastern and western ends). In any case, a large jug of water (kôrami) is placed at its center. The platform usually slopes slightly upwards from the periphery towards the center, allowing overflow water from the jug to run off (temples may also have more elaborate drainage systems). The central jug is surrounded by metal vases filled with sand or earth and holding torches or candles that are kept lighted throughout daylight hours. Additionally, two bigger fires are set up, one each at the eastern and western sides of the outer column circle of the temple. They are usually located in large stone vases in between two columns so they point directly east and west, and must be kept burning throughout the day, but may flicker out during the night. Finally, there are usually some stools under the temple’s roof for the priest and the reciters to sit down, as well as a simple screen to shelter reciters from rain and a stand with a copy of the Taršemâ from which they can read verses. The copy of the holy book and other ritual equipment (such as bells, incense, rose leaves etc.) may be kept in a simple hollow or cellar under the temple floor, or may be brought by the priest from his place of residence each day.

Each Round Temple is operated by a single male priest (kâva or talanûf). No formal training is required to fulfill this role, but in practice certain local families often monopolize priestly positions, in collusion with Great Temples and community leaders. The priest performs most Oleric rituals, and is the only person authorized to handle fire within the boundaries of the temple, and is thus the only one allowed to light the torches (or candles) around the central jug, burn incense, and kindle the East-West fires. Priests are also responsible for temple finances, handling donations as well as income from ritual performances and peripheral activities such as selling rose water for the karâpath (a pious action involving a clockwise circumnavigation of the central jug, followed by a small amount of rose water being poured into it). Finally, they are tasked with taking care of the central jug, emptying it of stale water in summer and breaking any ice that may form on it during night-time in winter.

Along with the priest, each temple employs around 10 reciters, one or two of whom recite verses from the Taršemâ throughout daylight hours. Details of organizing recitation vary, but usually, the priest has the responsibility of negotiating shifts with reciters – many of whom may work in recitation part-time, or may perform in several neighborhood temples at different times. Unlike priesthood, recitation does require formal training, and each reciter should be introduced to a local Round Temple by his own instructor from a Great Temple or religious school. In practice, this requirement is often bypassed, and training is often informal – but local communities are quickly able to spot ‘usurpers’ who do not know the Taršemâ well enough or have subpar recitation skills. Essentially, the necessity for formal training is voided if a reciter is considered of good enough standard. This is especially important in areas where Olerism is not firmly entrenched, and where it would be extremely difficult to guarantee that all reciters have been formally trained.

The final category of temple personnel are ‘assistants’ – usually children or youngsters from the neighborhood who help the priest clean the stairs of the temple before sunrise or lower the sûrap (large white cloths used to cover the outer side of temple’s columns during the night) before the morning ritual (tražâna). They also take care of the barrels of rose water available outside the temple for patrons wishing to perform the karâpath: a silver coin or several is usually expected in return for a glass of rose water from these barrels.

The daily routine at a Round Temple


The actions listed below are performed daily at a typical Round Temple, with additions and variations during life cycle rituals, festivals, and the yearly Days of Glory. Note that Great Temples and temple complexes may have their own, variable ritual routines and schedules. For instance, at the Great Temple of Arûm in Hayhâ (founded by the prophet Arûm in 967, and also the location of his tomb), priests do not remove the sûrap from columns during daytime, and perform some specific rituals initiated by the Last Prophet with much greater regularity than certain rituals characteristic of Round Temples (such as the harâyha-kuf).

1. Sunrise (sinâ-hañath). Preparations for the day usually begin before sunrise, when assistants clean the temple floor and its surroundings. At dawn, the priest rings bells several times, and he (or his assistants) removes the sûrap from the columns. If the East-West fires went out during the night, the priest rekindles them with dry wood and bark (to promote sparks). He also makes sure the central jug is in a state that enables the karâpath to be performed, replacing the water if it has a bad smell or breaking up any ice that might have formed in the night.

2. Morning ritual (tražâna)
. Immediately after removing the sûrap and re-lighting the fires, the priest initiates the tražâna ritual by ringing the bells again. By that time, the reciter(s) scheduled to work that morning will have arrived to the temple. The priest mutters a few verses from the Taršemâ, after which the reciter begins to speak. Verses from the Taršemâ must be read (or recited from memory) continuously until sunset. Since there must be no gap in recitation, reciters’ work will usually overlap if they work in shifts, reading together for a while.

Uninterrupted recitation must normally be guaranteed during daylight hours, but during the yearly Days of Glory, recitation must continue during the night as well. Per Arûm 12: 3-4, there need be no recitation if this would endanger the reciters’ lives, and this is often taken to cover difficult weather (such as storms, blizzards, or extremely low temperatures) if the central platform of the temple is not enclosed by walls as a separate building. However, light rain or snow, or temperatures not much below freezing, are not considered sufficient cause for interrupting recitation.

3. Kasû ritual. The kasû ritual is usually performed approximately two or three hours before midday, and involves the priest burning incense and reciting the Blinded Priest’s prayer (attributed to Kâlakåš after his blinding in captivity in 875), with a piece of white cloth over his eyes to directly enact the Blind Prophet’s fate.

4. Harâyha-kuf ritual. This ritual is usually performed approximately two or three hours after midday, and involves the priest sharpening a knife and immersing it in water in the central jug, alluding to the fates of both the Executed Prophet (Mêrnaš, who was executed by drowning in 877) and the Warrior Prophet (Žerêñith, who died in battle in 898). The priest then takes the knife out of the jug, burns incense and pours water into the central jug through a sieve with rose leaves and flakes of gold.

5. Evening ritual (nêren). This ritual begins approximately an hour before sunset, with the priest ringing bells, followed by a short group recital, in which the priest is joined by several reciters (usually at least five or six of those regularly reciting at the temple, although more or indeed all of them may be present) in reading verses from the Taršemâ. More bells are then rung, and patrons proceed to enter the temple in large numbers, performing a modified version of the karâpath: they circle the central jug three times, pour rose water inside it (patrons who can afford it may put golden flakes or small pieces of silver in the nêren offering), circle the jug another time, and then gather round the temple, facing its center. Patrons then usually pray silently for a while with closed eyes, their head lowered, and hands put together on their laps. In Rinalic Olerism, patrons may also sing hymns collectively, or recite portions of the Taršemâ on their own while gathered around the temple, but this is unusual for the nêren as practiced in other sects.

While the nêren is performed daily at each temple, most believers will only participate every three days or so. There is no ‘weekly’ schedule of dedicated ceremonies attended by everyone, although patrons may be more likely to do nêren on days deemed astrologically auspicious for their names, regional provenance, or professions. Indeed, many Trevecian aristocrats have personal astrologers, who calculate when it is most auspicious for their employers to perform nêren (among other duties, such as determining auspicious dates for beginning certain enterprises). During the Days of Glory – a seventeen-day period calculated anew each year from the position of stars and planets at the winter solstice – most believers will perform nêren every day.

6. Sunset (sinâ-žiren).
At sunset, the priest rings bells and suspends the sûrap back on the temple’s columns. Unlike morning removal, this action must be performed by the priest himself, rather than assistants. Some patrons lingering from the nêren may watch the sûrap being put on, and may join the reciter in reciting the last verses of the day. The priest rings the bells for a second time after the sûrap covers are back on, and the reciter concludes his performance, marking the end of the daily routine.

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 Post subject: Re: Oleric Round Temples
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 4:25 am 
Avisaru
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So are people too lazy to read, think it's utter crap, or just can't be bothered to post?

(I'm probably too optimistic about response rates here, but whatever.)

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 Post subject: Re: Oleric Round Temples
PostPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:24 am 
Smeric
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Cathbad wrote:
So are people too lazy to read, think it's utter crap, or just can't be bothered to post?


Oh, it is nice, interesting and realistic. It's just that I sometimes miss things here, and know not what I should comment on it in detail.

BTW: My Elves also have round temples, but I haven't yet found out much else about them.

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 Post subject: Re: Oleric Round Temples
PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 10:59 pm 
Niš
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Cathbad wrote:
So are people too lazy to read, think it's utter crap, or just can't be bothered to post?


Agreed with WeepingElf.

I liked it. It's detailed and very interesting.

The amount of detail may be part of the reason why there are few responses. It seems rather complete -- take it as a compliment. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Oleric Round Temples
PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:19 am 
Avisaru
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dragar wrote:
Cathbad wrote:
So are people too lazy to read, think it's utter crap, or just can't be bothered to post?


Agreed with WeepingElf.

I liked it. It's detailed and very interesting.

The amount of detail may be part of the reason why there are few responses. It seems rather complete -- take it as a compliment. :D


Haha - thanks :D (to both Jörg and yourself). I hate to post Works in Progress though because I usually just forget about them. I've found that unless I go right through to the end on a certain thing once I get inspired to do it, it usually gets forgotten, either as a ZBB thread or as a file on my laptop... and then it's extremely difficult to continue the work once the initial inspiration has gone.

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