Ngudren a Dokh
The Dokhar call death "Ngudren"—The Un-Rhythm, the absence of motion. The only thing which cannot experience the Un-Rhythm is the ocean, because only the tide cannot be made still. But that leaves open the question of what happens to the motion when it has gone? Or, to ask it in a more straightforward manner, when a person dies, where does their rhythm go? Because the Dokhar believe all motion ultimately descends from the sea, the ideal outcome is for that thing which animates us to rejoin with the tide. But the tide is slow and subtle and powerful, vastly different from the quick and small rhythms of the body. Reunion with the tide is a daunting task. That is where the one of the priests of the Order of the Unceasing Tide, all of whom are trained as Andokh Renar, become important.
Among the Dokhar, the dead are shepherded away from the living world by the Ngudren a Dokh—"Death into Water." The body of the deceased is taken out to sea, and a priest trained in the Anddokh Ren uses it, a drum, and a handful of other items to draw that force which animated the deceased in life to their location, and eases it into unity with the tide.
The Ngudren a Dokh was first formalized during the near to the formation of the Order of the Unceasing Tide, before the Seven Cities of Lo Dokh had unified into the Empire of the Sea.
Before everything else, the priest gathers the materials and their assistant, boards their vessel, and journeys out to sea. Once at sea, the priest will light any incense they have prepared, and begin beating out a rhythm of four beats on their Kharo, which is meant to be reminiscent of a heartbeat. The priest will then call out the name of the deceased four times, once each for a rhythm of four beats. The priest will continue drumming out beats of four until they can feel a new rhythmic presence, distinct from the ocean and their drum—the spirit of the departed. The priest will then gradually, over the course of hours, slow the beating of their drum, which in turn slows the rhythms of the spirit. Once they believe the spirit is ready, the priest will signal their assistants, and they will gradually lower the body of the deceased into the ocean, completing the ritual.
Components and tools
Though not a component, the ritual always takes place while at sea, and as such a seaworthy vessel of some kind is required to perform it. The foremost tool used by a priest performing the Ngudren a Dokh is the Kharo, a deep, bowl-shaped drum. Its main body is carved from a single piece of wood, with a membrane is made from the dried guts of a sea monster. The priest uses this drum to ritualistically manipulate rhythm—in this case, the rhythms of the spiritual remains of the departed. The second most important item to be used in the ritual is the body of the deceased, which is used as a metaphorical link to call the spirit of the departed to the ritual site. It may be accompanied by some of th possessions which belonged to the deceased in life, which strengthen the link. Priests will often light incense of some kind for summoning the spirit, to make it more amenable to suggestion, but this is not strictly required.. Depending on the size of the vessel the ritual is performed on, ropes, or even a wooden platform, may be used to lower the body of the deceased into the ocean at the ceremony's conclusion.
The chief participant in the ritual is the priest who is fully trained in the Andokh Ren, who officiates the ceremony, and performs its most critical tasks. Beyond them, there are at least two assistants, preferably individuals who knew the deceased in life, who lower the body of the deceased into the sea at the ritual's conclusion.