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    Postfest V, Part II: The Festival of Well-Dressing
    Posted on Tue, August 09, 2005 by Dongul
    gvdammerung writes "Water is life. This is particularly true in the parched lands of the Baklunish West. Geshtai, Goddess of Lakes, Rivers and Wells is most often celebrated in well-dressing rituals, wherein local wells are blessed each year. One of the greatest of such ceremonies is that of Vilayad in the Tusman Hills.

    The Festival of Well-Dressing
    By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    Date: 22nd - 25th Reaping
    Location: Vilayad, Tusmit
    Type: Religous/Local

    The Well of Vilayad is sacred to Geshtai, Baklunish Goddess of Lakes, Rivers and Wells. It is believed that the well has curative powers and that the well is the source of the water in all other wells in the Tusman Hills. The Tusman Hill tribes consider the well holy and protect it from being profaned. During the year the well is guarded by an honor guard drawn from all of the hill tribes. It is considered a great honor to be selected for this duty, usually given to young warriors who have just passed into adulthood, having proven themselves in battle. Every year, representatives of each of these dozens of hill men tribes gather in Vilayad for the Festival of Well-Dressing.

    The Well of Vilayad is actually not a classic well. It consists of three natural pools, one large and two smaller, surrounded in a basin by low rises, over grown by luxurious date and palm trees. Each of the separate pools is fed by an artesian spring. The legends of the well are true. Bathing in the largest pool acts to heal the bather of all injury, lifts curses, enables full restoration of life energy and conveys atonement if the bather follows any of the Baklunish deities or a druidic faith. As such, the Well of Vilayad is a pilgrimage site for many in the Baklunish West, as well as Ket and the lands of the Tiger Nomads. The well also connects to the underground aquifer beneath the Tusman Hills that, indeed, is the source of water in most of the wells in the otherwise parched Tusman Hills.

    The Festival of Well-Dressing begins with a ritualized promenade around the well site, going on for hours, through the heat of the day. This is followed by ritual prayers and fasting for another full day. On the third day, the well is adorned, or dressed, with fragrant flowers and bows, after which more prayers are said. Finally, on the fourth day, ritual baths are officiated by the assembled holy men and women, lead by the chief cleric of Geshtai from Vilayad. This is the event many have come to participate in. Those healed or made well by the waters of the Well of Vilayad traditionally leave offerings at the local temple of Geshtai. In a secret ceremony, later in the month, many of these gifts are sacrificed to Geshtai by being dropped into one of the well pools.

    Were the Well to be poisoned, almost all of the water supply in the Tusman Hills would be compromised. While the aquifer would eventually restore itself, it would first work a great hardship on the Tusman Hill tribes, depending on how badly the well was poisoned. Magically attacking the well would, however, likely do little, unless the waters themselves were to be transformed in some manner. To ward against such disaster, several jugs of pure water from the Well of Vilayad are kept among the holy men and women among the hill tribes. In the event of disaster at the Well, it is believed these untainted samples of well water could be used, in conjunction with the proper rituals, to restore the well. The honor guard of the well is, however, intended to ensure that such measures are never called for.

    "
     
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