Zhilé Funeral Rites

The Zhilé confine their dead in dark rooms for three weeks following the death, using various coverings, sand, and herbs to slow decomposition and dry the body. This process is not used to fully mummify the body, but rather to ensure that any negative entities using the body for their own gain are destroyed. When the three weeks of ritual drying in darkness is complete, the body is brought out to a pyre and burned ceremoniously in a celebration of the individual's life and clean death.   The idea of a "clean death" has very little to do with the actual manner of death and more pertains to the cleanliness of the soul being released by the flames. The Zhilé believe that any occupying entities, such as chromaphages, are cursed and must be driven from the corpse before the soul of the individual can find its place in the great cosmic river.

History

These rites only took form a few generations after the rise of Byai'a, in response to the vilification of the Taka'raiti. They have been reinforced and elaborated upon over the years since, particularly after the formation of the Knights of the Sun.

Participants

Only the immediate family are permitted to attend the body of the deceased, while the entire village may celebrate at the funeral pyre. In the case of those who die with no immediate family, the extended family is permitted to conduct the rites. If no extended family is available, the duty falls to the lesser priesthood of the Knights of the Sun. Those tended to by the priesthood are generally both pitied and considered cleaner than those tended by only family.

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