The Feast of Ashur Tradition / Ritual in Ulskandar | World Anvil

The Feast of Ashur

An annual feast held throughout the Republic of Castar, which commemorates the defeat of King Nebuchadnezzar III by the Republican Army at the Battle of Burrakish in 252S.E. In every village, town and city of the Republic people gather to feast, play games, dance and sing to honour the beginning of the Republic of Castar, and the casting off of monarchical despotism. In Wardeen there is an incredibly elaborate procession through the city, which culminates in a chariot race through the city streets, to re-enact Nebuchadnezzar’s attempted flight from the battle field before his death.   Ashur is the warlike form of Castar’s principal deity, Hani’ata, who is reputed to have appeared before the leader of the Republican Army, Ador Palasar on the morning of the battle, telling him to strike at the Royal host. Following the goddess’ instructions, Ador Palasar led the charge against Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, attacking them as they were attempting to withdraw from the area, and quickly turned the retreat into a rout. Ever the battle of Burrakish, people across Castar have commemorated the divine intervention of Ashur, and her true form Hani’ata.


Despite the focus of the Feast of Ashur on the commemoration of the Battle of Burrakish, and the moment of divine intervention by Ashur, there was no recorded celebration immediately after the battle itself. Indeed, as the battle had been a particularly bloody and was only a part of a long gruelling campaign by the Republican Army against King Nebuchadnezzar III, most of the participants who were still standing were just thankful to be alive, and too exhausted to celebrate. Equally, it was at least two days until the towns that had declared for the Republic actually heard about the result of the battle, and even though there would have been some form of impromptu celebration in each of these centres, the Feast of Ashur was not formally established.   It was only over a year later in the sixth month of 253S.E. after the Republic of Castar had been formally founded, that the Feast of Ashur was officially established. This delay was because the Battle of Burrakish did not actually mark the end of the conflict, as the Royalist stronghold of Hajjalla continued to hold out for several months, only falling in the eleventh month of 252 S.E. In addition, the significant amount of planning and administration that went into the founding of the Republic meant that matters of feasting were put to one side until after the establishment.   The inaugural Feast of Ashur was held on the 29th of the fifth month 254S.E., on the second anniversary of the Battle of Burrakish. This was the first time that many of Castar’s inhabitants heard the story of Ashur’s moment of divine intervention in the battle, and the part credited to her by the new Republican government in their eventual victory. Nevertheless, the Feast was a success from the outset, and has continued to be celebrated in lavish style ever since.


Across Castar, people rise at dawn and hold a silent vigil to commemorate the moment that Ashur appeared before Ador Palasar and urged him to order the Republican Army to attack before Nebuchadnezzar’s forces were able to slip away from the field of battle. The vigil ends when the sun has risen with a series of prayers led by a priest or priestess of Hani’ata, and then a procession will take place through the settlements in Castar, with the people beating together sticks, pots and pans, and shouting, to recreate the noise of battle. These processions move from the edge of the settlements and end once they have reached the centre. There, the assembled people will hear a speech by their local leader, before dispersing to feast at midday. In the afternoon of the feast, a number of athletic games will be held, most of them martial in nature: wrestling, javelin throwing, tug of war and one-on-one combat, to represent the martial feats that the Republican Army carried out during the battle of Burrakish. These games culminate with a race, which can be a footrace, horserace, or famously in Wardeen a chariot race, which commemorates the decisive moment of the battle, when Nebuchadnezzar III was caught attempting to flee the field of battle in his chariot, and was caught and killed by the Republican Army.   In Wardeen, because the city is so large, each district will organise its own vigil and procession, all of which end outside the Cascading Hall, the heart of the Republican government. The chariot race that takes place at the formal end of the feast and sees an entry from almost every wealthy family from across the Republic, and the winner of the race is awarded a substantial amount of prize money. The race starts on the numerous jetties and wharfs of the Great Harbour, and the charioteers race at break neck speed through the city streets, finishing outside the Cascading Hall. It is not unusual for the charioteers to be badly wounded or even killed in crashes during the race, and a number of spectators are wounded by flying debris from these crashes each year.


In each of the settlements across the Republic, the local leader of the community and a representative from the local temple of Hani’ata will direct the events of the day. A priest or priestess of Hani’ata will lead the prayers and solemn aspects of the day, and the local leader will address the community at the end of the procession, and will preside over the games that take place in the afternoon. In Wardeen, it is the Protector of the Republic and the High Priest of the Temple of Hani’ata that will lead the proceedings. The beginning and ending of the different parts of the day will be signalled by lesser clergy, and representatives of the local Hani’ata temple walking through the streets ringing bells.


The Feast of Ashur is held across the Republic of Castar on the 29th of the fifth month, the anniversary of the Battle of Burrakish.
Primary Related Location

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


Please Login in order to comment!