On Oleric Round Temples, part II

[The second of two posts on Oleric Round Temples, this describes the daily routine at a typical Round Temple – as practiced by speakers of High Eolic, among others.]

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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