The temple is situated so that the sun rises from behind its Main Hall. Reasons are simple. One is for the purpose of Dawn Gazing (explained below), the other is so that those arriving in the early morning to do their prayers can feel the sun's gentle touch on their faces. Although there are only five main locations within the temple's premises, the temple itself is spread across a considerably large space. It is done so that during festivals it can accommodate the influx of citizens who roam the grounds to meet with the worshiped Immortals. But it is also to provide space for merchants and spirituals who come to set up stalls in the courtyard around the Well of Forgiveness. The ground is not beaten earth, but it's laid with light and darker stones. Upon entry onto the premises, one is almost met with two neat rows of Tus tree that have been planted there by the first benefactors who contributed to the building of the temple a long time ago. The temple staff takes great care of these trees and as such, the scent of this plant gives the grounds an almost otherworldly feeling.
All buildings are built in the same style regardless of their usage. The only difference is their size with Main Hall being the largest; Testimony Hall and Hall of Rebirth being two smaller building on each side of the Main Hall. All of them are built from white stone, with light colored wood used for joists, vibrant reds and greens for shingles, and golden glow around the fascias. As such it gives away a rich feel which comes across more warming than intimidating, however. After all, those working on the premises have the attitude of gratefulness rather than arrogance. The truth is, though, that thanks to the multitude of festivals that are organized on the grounds, the temple can also afford its decorations.
Well of Forgiveness
Well of Forgiveness is a sizable, round, stone structure filled with clear water. On its edge, there are small round stones (around half a cm in diameter) free for taking by those who wish to pray at the well. An individual would usually pick one of those stones, dip it in the water of the well and pray for forgiveness for someone, or for strength to forgive. After the prayer or request to Ymiden, the individual casts the stone into the well in the symbolism of casting away the stone from one's heart that has been weighing them down. The well gets cleaned twice an arc to gather the castaway stones.
Main Hall is the largest structure on the grounds. It consists of various sections.
At the front of the structure is the praying room. It houses two depictions - one of Ymiden, one of Vhalar. There are three separate offering tables. Each depiction of the Immortal has a table in the front and then there is one in the middle. That is so that citizens who came to revere the Immortals can choose whether to revere one or the other or both. One of the main aspects of the Main Hall is its large set of doors which open at ever dawn and close at every dusk. The size of the doors is large enough to reveal the depictions so they can be seen from afar. During festivals, this set of doors stay open until the last visitor has left.
At the back of the Main Hall, separate from the site and access of the citizens is the administrative section. This houses a small library with general sacred texts, head priest's office, and storage room.
Hall of Rebirth
Hall of Rebirth is used for those who want to shed their past and start afresh. It is for those who want to leave one life behind and start anew with blessings from Immortals and reassurance. It can be in connection with profession, love life, putting an end to painful past to start a brighter future. Hall of Rebirth is usually looked after by a maiden who also performs the ritual.
Person wishing for the ritual of Rebirth undergoes an initial confession with a priest after which a ritual takes place in the Hall. During this ritual the individual sits in the middle of the hall and the maiden recites texts from the sacred books. The purpose of the ritual is for the person to meditate upon what they are letting go off and where they want to head. Oftentimes, the maiden will light incense created from the trees growing around the complex.
Similarly, as it is with the Main Hall, even Hall of Rebirth consists of two sections. The front one is where the ritual takes place. It is rather void of decoration, unlike the Main Hall. Yet, it has long narrow windows which allow for breeze and light to come in. At the back of the Hall is a small library with appropriate sacred texts.
After the ritual, voluntary donations are welcome.
This hall is generally used for weddings. It's a hall where life-long oaths are given and expected to be kept. The hall is decorated according to the wishes of those to be wedded, or for the purpose of the oath, that's going to be given. There is a statutory fee that needs to be paid for the usage of this hall. After that, there is a voluntary donation at citizen's discretion dependent on how satisfied they were with the service.
This Hall as well has front and back section of the same purpose as the previous halls where from is for public, and back is the library.
Dawn Gazing isn't as much a building as it is a perfect spot at the premises to watch the rising sun. Due to the way that the temple was built, the three Halls shield the spectators from the rush and even the presence of Ne'haer as they look out towards the East where Ymiden ushers the fiery globe onto the arch. This spot is favored mainly during Ymiden and the temple has officially scheduled Dawn Gazing event twice a fortnight. During each session, donations are voluntary but encouraged.
Outside of those times, the Dawn Gazing area is supposed to be off limits to citizens. However, you can sometimes see certain people defying that unspoken rule and coming to watch the Dawn at that place anyways. Usually, it is the elderly and the temple staff often leaves them be to their devices.
The area of Dawn Gazing, outside its prescribed times, is used by the temple staff to perform various tasks, for example, incense making.
- Crop blessing (Ashan 40 - Ashan 45) - An event that happens when the snow thaws and the soil is ready to be worked. During this time, the temple deploys all of its priests onto its grounds to deal with the influx of farmers who have brought samples of their crops to be blessed. It is common to see various merchants with their stalls in the courtyard, trying to sell fertilizers and other farming products.
- The Cherishing (Ymiden 1 - Ymiden 7) - As one of the longest festivals organized by the temple, it is solely devoted to the Immortal Ymiden. During this time countless entertainers, merchants, spirituals, and citizens come to the temple not only to celebrate the Immortal with music, crafts, food and drinks but also to sight Ymiden himself who is said to walk the grounds on that day. The program might vary slightly from year to year but it always climaxes in a large bonfire. Decorations connected to Ymiden and his depictions are also placed around the temple.
- First Harvest Festival (mid-season Ymiden) - Usually five trials long, falling on the dates around sixtieth Ymiden. The custom is that farmers bring a small portion of the crops to offer to the Immortals in the Main Hall. Also, for the duration of the festival, there is a local cook-off where local housewives come to boast with their delicious meals supposedly cooked from the supplies of the first harvest.
- Farstar (falling on each night of full moon) - Farstar is a stargazing festival during which the temple puts out all its lights to maximize the shine of the stars and the full moon. It is a fact that it is one of the riskier events that the temple organizes as in the complete darkness various things might happen. For this reason, the temple asks for help from local guards. Up to this day, no major incidents have taken place during this time despite to provision of alcohol during this event.
- Caring Is Sharing (throughout Saun) - In other words, this is the mentality by which the temple operates during Saun, and tries to encourage in other as well. The temple encourages its staff and citizens to make sure everyone has plenty of water and takes care of themselves during this extremely hot period. It also encourages those of poorer and begging status to come to the temple for refreshments so that the temple can minimize any deaths or suffering. The temple refuses to make a profit out of providing the necessities even though it recognizes the business potential that lies within.
Notes: The main income for the temple comes from the festivals and events where merchants and spirituals requesting a stall space on the premises need to pay a fee. Also, during those time, the temple puts up stands of its own, selling talismans at a small unified price that offer various benefits. The temple might appear to rely heavily on donations. The philosophy is of interdependence and reliance on the community and the temple. However, there are currently some patrons who regularly donate to the temple. ~ Finn
- The Cherishing (Vhalar 1 - Vhalar 7) - This Cherishing is done in the honor of the Immortal Vhalar and is done in the same style as the Cherishing for Ymiden. The only difference is that the decoration around the temple is exclusively based on and inspired by the said Immortal.
- Second Harvest Festival (mid-season of Vhalar) - The Harvest Festival is also five trials long. During this time the final yield is being celebrated and be it, farmers or other folks, they all come together to appreciate the crops whether someone had a rich or poor harvest. It's a festival of thanksgiving as the locals thank the Immortals for their blessings and protection, for the yield. It is a festival full of dancing and merriment through which the local hope to please the Immortals in order to receive favors in the future.
- The Reckoning (119 Vhalar) - When the days start getting colder and everyone has counted the crops, it becomes clear who will have a peaceful winter and who will struggle. Hence, there is the Reckoning. Despite its ominous sound, it is a one-day festival during which the citizens celebrate what they have, giving the opportunity for the less fortunate to come at sell with stall fee at half price. It is also a parting festival during which citizens say goodbye to the season and the Immortal who reigns it. Whilst the most somber in nature out of all the festivals, the Reckoning is enjoyed by the citizens as a chance of quiet networking with others.
Note: In the past, there was a stark difference in the ratio of men to women. This was not due to the temple preferring men to women. It was due to the fact that by design majority of locations have always been taken care of by men and due to the association with the gender of the different halls (rebirth connected with woman's ability to give birth; oath associated with man's necessity to give an oath of loyalty in an army, etc.). However, past Head Priests and Matriarchs have worked together to level the field. These days, Matriarch can perform ceremonies in the Testimonial Hall if the citizen so wishes to, but priests yet cannot perform rituals in the Hall of Rebirth. ~ Finn
Location and its NPCs may be self moderated. Location credit goes to Finn.
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|Priest Assistants|| Aide Maiden|