Introduction to Mevwan's Five Most Notable Religions:
The colors mentioned associated with each religion are the ones that are used for streamers or markings indicating that a given item or facility complies with the religion's prohibitions, much the way that green is used to identify human-friendly facilities and red to identify Zaee-friendly facilities. For instance, only books that end happily are marked with a yellow twist; only restaurants that sell food adhering to Hapheng ritual practices fly a blue streamer; etc.
Zwerise, translating literally to something like "there are higher ones", is a Zaee religion. It was practiced at least nominally by all of the crash survivors, but now claims only 3/4 of the population of the species and a minute handful of particularly quirky humans who have converted into the faith. Zwerisi believe that the world is a fiction, simulation, dream, or other non-real progression of events (interpretations differ between individual adherents) of a person or group of people who exist in a form of higher reality. They do not consider it particularly imperative to worship this person/these people (various names exist for them, but (in singular or plural form) "runners", as in "those running a simulation", is most common, followed by "authors", "dreamers", "thinkers", and "animators"). However, they do spend significant amounts of time speculating on the runners' motives and occasionally worrying about what may be done to reduce the risk that their simulation will be shut down or subjected to terrible disasters (including careful attempts at correlating their behavior with the timing of events like earthquakes and plagues).
Zwerisi do not have a holy text as such, but many refer interested parties to a book entitled "We Cannot Fly All The Way Up: Zaeeic Arguments Supporting Zwerise". Its practice consists mostly of philosophical argument, certain ritual laws around the treatment of computers and their software, and a requirement that one only write stories with happy endings (Zaee literature is invariably upbeat for this reason; even individuals who grow up to reject the religion report feeling uncomfortable with writing untimely character death or excess heartbreak into their fictions). Particularly serious Zwerisi will go to the trouble of writing happy endings to any dreams they have which end badly. Zwerise sometimes congregate in small groups to collaboratively tell cheerful fictions to each other. Their funerary practices usually involve collaborating on and reciting a story in which the deceased lives on, happily ever after in some manner suited to them. (Some people write their own afterlife stories for their loved ones to read/recite/imagine after their deaths.)
Hapheng, named after its founder Ethdan Carowa Thein Hapheng who adapted the religion from its unpronounceable and unfashionable predecessor, is the most common human religion in Mevwan, although its faithful (even counting all sects together) do not comprise a majority of the population. Haphengko revere three non-personified entities (collectively the Regularities), called the Law, the Purity, and the Revelation. The Law is the sum of the (large number of) ritual practices Haphengko are obliged to adhere to, although only a fraction of these are reliably kept up with by mainstream modern Haphengko. The Purity (also called "Light") is the inner spiritual goodness that is supposedly generated within good practicing Haphengko, and which, accumulated in sufficient quantity, is expected to rub off onto nearby less-good Haphengko and non-Haphengko and inspire them to improve. The Revelation is the continuing authority of Haphengko authorities, "revelators", to update and clarify the Law in response to new situations.
There are several sects of Haphengko: "Sunlight for All" and "Mortal Law" are the most common mainstream varieties, where the former advocates a subjective monitoring of how much Light one personally feels one has accumulated over a meticulous accounting of one's adherence to the rituals, and the latter teaches that any socially agreed-upon set of Laws may yield adequate spiritual results without Hapheng's law being unique in this way, including the secular laws passed by one's government. More orthodox sects (such as Lantern Bright, Perfect Regularity, and Revelation Dawn) are also found, advocating various subtle interpretations and updates of historical Law, and plenty of humans are "just" Haphengko without identifying with a sect or being particularly strict about adhering to ritual. Haphengko believe in reincarnation for people who die with a sufficiently large amount of Purity/Light, and believe that revelators are mostly reincarnated from prior revelators, which makes modern decrees of Law no less valid than prior ones (since the revelators are likely as not just correcting themselves). They believe that people who die without a sufficiency of Light fail to hold together as a distinct soul after death and dissipate, to be reconstituted piecemeal in combination with other dissipated soul-matter and form new souls that do not have continuity of any kind with the old.
Kret Dshande: (Purple)
Kret Dshande is a nickname for this second most popular religion, the term derived from its series of holy books (titled "Kret", "Dshande", "Pthalian", "Tashfre", "Anand-Ei", and "Kthoin", each named after its unique protagonist who participates in a series of didactic adventures and exemplifies the virtues of the faith). The full name - used only by the most conservative and uptight adherents - is The Following Of That Which Is Beyond As Led By The Six Enlightened Guides As Told In The Six Sacret Texts. "Followers" is a general shortening for the adherents of Kret Dshande. The enlightened guides from the books are not, strictly speaking, gods, although it is permitted to pray to them as intercessors between Followers and That Which Is Beyond. That Which Is Beyond is personified, unlike the Regularities above, but its motivations and psychology are unremittingly mysterious except as gleaned through inklings provided by the exemplars provided by the Enlightened Guides.
Followers do not typically hope to become Enlightened themselves, although it is held to be possible - the Enlightened Guides are seen as having made a great sacrifice of their own blissful ignorance in order to comprehend That Which Is Beyond and pass on the minimum necessary truth to Followers. A precise balance of knowledge (necessary to operate in the world) and ignorance (necessary to be happy) is commonly sought. (The reason why excess knowledge supposedly prevents happiness is not well-understood, although Followers have a habit of quoting statistics about intelligence and mood disorders and then nodding smugly to themselves, and are prone to telling didactic stories about cases in which secrets getting out makes everyone miserable.) Followers do not usually congregate in official services, although they may discuss the holy books with Follower friends and family, and parents usually read the books to their children at a young age. Followers believe that, after death, one continues to a world "one step forward", in which it is possible to happily maintain a slightly superior state of knowledge, and so on and so forth until one can be blissfully omniscient and fold into That Which Is Beyond. The number of worlds necessary to traverse to accomplish this is unknown but speculated to exceed 100. (The Enlightened Guides are not presented as having come from a world beyond this one.)
Elehaith (literally "god making") is the third most common religion in Mevwan, although their presence in popular culture would make them seem more commonplace. They can be accurately described as polytheistic, but they believe that gods are created and sustained by mortals rather than the other way around: any Elehaithi ("god maker") can make up and name a new deity on the spot custom-designed to assist with a problem or to retroactively credit with a beneficial event. The Elehaithi chooses the god's superficial attributes (gender or lack thereof, food preferences, appearance, etc.) These gods are believed to disappear if they do not receive periodic offerings of burnt food, and gods with poor prayer-answering track records or that outlive their usefulness are regularly starved (although some Elehaithi continue feeding gods that helped them once indefinitely, out of gratitude). Elehaithi tend to assume that the gods of other religions which don't practice burnt offering exist in a constant state of torment, as the belief of many adherents continually re-creates them but they never get fed a proper meal; it is not considered acceptable to feed those gods, as the power lent to them by their numerous followers (compared to the handful boasted by any given Elehaith god) is only checked by their starvation. In times of crisis, the Elehaithi have been known to jointly starve all of their incompetent gods to death out of spite (and a desire to keep more of their own food), and then generate a new pantheon to help them out of the difficulty.
While any given pair of Elehaithi may share no patron deities in common at all (or might share only one or two especially long-lived and popular ones, such as Pikh, the god of it always raining eventually, or Gherin, the god of compound interest), they do congregate in local groups on a regular basis to tell each other what gods they have invented lately, propose starving a god that has failed them (coordination on this is necessary if more than one person burns offerings to the god), and sometimes collaborate on inventing gods which need more power than a god worshiped by only one person can have. They do not have clergy per se, but appoint one of their number to be the deific census-taker, who keeps diligent track of what gods have been created and starved lately and exchanges notes with the other census-takers. The Elehaithi release a periodical which includes a reasonably up-to-date list of currently popular gods (and any petitions to starve such gods out) once a week. They believe in an afterlife in which the gods one was maintaining at the time of one's death look after one's soul out of gratitude for their creation and maintenance, and that the deceased may reincarnate if their gods are starved by the living.
Thtoi means "prophecy", and it is a new religion founded since the introduction of psionics to the human population of Mevwan. It was founded by Leluko Haravn Ishandi Mecarisht Beoi, an anticipath-telepath who claimed to foresee a number of disastrous events (the crash of a second spaceship, a tornado destroying the city of Preng, a barbarian invasion from the mountains armed with strange weapons that neither perturbers nor astrapitors could halt, the simultaneous deaths of all the telepaths in Mevwan due to a mental virus, and others) and claimed that her telepathic powers were such that she could avert these events, but only if she was maintained in a state of total relaxation and comfort to allow her to concentrate. A number of people believed her, whether due to psionic manipulation on her part or sheer charisma (she was able to block the incursions of other telepaths trying to determine her honesty) and the Thtoi were formed. They volunteered time and resources to keep Leluko comfortable and supported, and they spread the word of her prophecies and what needed to be done to avert the events, and indeed the disasters did not come to pass. She continued making doomsday prophecies until her death in the year -68. She died in the middle of predicting that a meteor would strike Pelagia and send it hurtling into the sun.
This prophecy alarmed the Thtoi, but as she had given no time frame and was no longer available to avert their doom, they didn't know when to expect the meteor or what could be done about it. They settled on praying very hard to the soul of Leluko, hoping that the energy they devoted to this task would somehow free her up from whatever tasks were occupying her in the afterlife so she could divert the meteor away, and they also continued missionary work, collecting more people to pray for Leluko to save them from the meteor. They are officially undeclared on the subject of the afterlife, but hope one exists, as without such a thing there's no way for Leluko to help them whether they pray or not. The Thtoi are divided on the subject of whether the meteor may have been already diverted or not, but even those who think it has been continue the miscellaneous activities of prayer out of gratitude to Leluko for taking care of that for them.