Burning the First Crop
CW: human sacrifice Burning the First Crop is a Zeribian new year's celebration.
Being chosen is considered to be a great honor. For a year the impostor has great power in the city, and is exeptionally cared for, a huge difference if they used to be a commoner. Despite this, they can hardly walk clamly into their death without being strongly sedated for the last weeks. During the festivities the impostor is paraded around the city, and finally into the temple. The sacrifice itself is witnessed only by the sacrificial priests, but at the nightfall the body, is burned in the temple's yard. Then when the festivities are over, it's time to choose the next impostor. Many authorities and citizens of the Republic of Free West Island have been strongly opposed to the tradition over the years, calling it barbaric and disgusting. Anyone who has tried to stop it, however, has had to fight with a crowd enraged and drunk Zeribians, so the tradition has been left to continue.
What the republic doesn't know
Harvest feastFirst Crop is primarily a rice harvest celebration. Within the tropics the rice can be harvested all year, but on West Island the harvest occurs always in the spring, at the end of the wet season. Rice farmers go to the temples of Usahdeg, the god of Fire, Acriculture and Rebirth. They bring a portion of the first seeds they harvested as an offering. All the rice is gathered together in the temple. A portion of it is burned for the gods, and the rest is cooked. Animals are also slaughtered. The nobles eat the first in the temple, and then the food is distributed to the crowd of commoners. A great feast is then held in front of the Temple of Usahdeg and on the streets of the city. Everyone is supposed to bring something, and share it with the others. The nobles get drunk on sahfyl, a traditional fruit wine (they are required to stay sober on most occasions), and offer it to any joining commoners too. The usually respectfully quiet streets fill with singing and laughter.
First Crop is also a celebration of the yearly rebirth of the nature. In the ceremonies the Zeribians remember the rebirth of Usahdeg, who once used to be the sun god. According to the mythology he was once was slain and cast down on Salan. His still burning body turned to ashes, rained down on the fields and fertilised them. When a farmer harvested the crops, Usahdeg's reborn form was released. On the left: a newly rebord Usahdeg in his child-form Usahdeg's rebirth in the beginning of the year is celebrated in Marsh Cape by sacrificing an impostor. The impostor is chosen at random from all the citizens, excluding the heads of noble families, firstborn sons and people holding some important government positions such as high priests and high censors. For a year, the impostor impersonates the god and leads religious rites, until being sacrificed and burned on the First Crop.
What the republic doesn't know
Often the impostor is actually not killed, but after being dragged to the temple, they can choose to become priests. This is pretty common knowledge, but the people can't speak about it in public, because they must convince the gods that the sacrifice is actually done.
Rite of passageA collective ceremony is held once a year to all the children of the age of 7. The children spend the last week of Idûrfeš (the Flood Month) on the school grounds studying and meditating (and preparing the temple for the upcoming celebration). On the first day of the month of Usahdeg (the New Flame, also the New Year's Day) the kids emerge from the temple wearing their youth clothes for the first time and called by their new names.
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