Kirana, n. : religion. Note: this word is neither singular nor plural. It cannot be made into a singular form because there are no "religions" there is only "religion."
By definition, all religion is state-sponsored. Temples are funded by tax money; priests are members of the Public Servant caste, their upkeep paid by the people of the district. There is no such thing as a private temple or church, nor can an individual choose to opt out of funding the temples of their district. In addition to providing the public with contemplative spaces and festivals, priests also are charged with public services appropriate to their god's aegis. Thus, priestesses of Ganaeda, the Sacred Mother, run what would be considered daycares for the Ai-Naidar who for whatever reason cannot rely on family to watch their children while they work. The priestesses of Shemena, the Maiden, arrange the bi-annual Trysts in summer and winter. The priests of Saresh maintain the libraries on the arts of war and train those who teach the Guardian Caste, or teach those Guardians themselves. So it goes for every major god that the Ai-Naidar have identified throughout their long history. For the most part, the concept of the god as an individual spirit is less prevalent than the idea of the god as symbolic representation of a concept: thus Saresh, aggression with subtlety, a warrior with a sword, versus Kulind, elemental violence, pictured with a lightning bolt… or not even anthropomorphized at all.
Religion is thus a matter of pragmatics and philosophy, very different from belief ("ishil"), which varies from individual to individual. An Ai-Naidari might profess an affinity for the principles of Ganaeda, or may prefer to worship the ancestors, or may observe rites for local spirits or individually-identified ones. An Ai-Naidari living in a small farming town may believe in a spirit that lives in a local stream, burn incense to a great-grandmother on a personal altar and then take advantage of Ganaeda's festivals, all without contradiction.
It should be noted that the word "worship" ("shove," pronounced "shoh VEH") is never used for gods or spirits; these latter, even from the very beginning of Ai-Naidari history, were always referred to as not-Ai-Naidari in the language: as Others, not as people, and worshipping them would have been inappropriate, as an elevation to a primacy that only people should have. Gods and spirits are observed or respected, but not worshipped. This is not the case with the ancestors, who can be rightly worshipped, being deceased people. Nor is it the case with the one figure that the Ai-Naidar do treat as a singular god: Thirukedi, who embodies the concept of Civilization, and who is rightly worshipped by applying oneself to living as a civilized person. It is to Thirukedi that the Ai-Naidar devote the passion and belief that most humans would associate with the word "religion" or "faith."
Finally, while most of the names of the gods remain associated with their icons, the Maiden's name, "Shemena," has entered the vernacular as slang for someone who believes that society's rules do not yet apply to them. It implies youth before the full yoke of responsibility comes to rest on the shoulders, and since it is rarely used to describe someone young enough to rightly believe so, it is rarely a flattering term.
Known Ai-Naidar GodsEdit
Deities are representative of virtues. Virtues may be enshrined in a figurehead or, in later times, simply as the virtue itself.
- Ganaeda - the Sacred Mother
- Kulind - elemental violence
- Saresh - the Warrior
- Shemena - the Maiden