So I got to thinking about, as per usual, how death might be handled on Yantas, more specifically amongst people living in the Kusan Empire (or at least in some Kusan society in general at some point), and I'm going to try and pull together the ideas that have been going through my head, hopefully in some sort of coherent way:
1) Humans are composite: The Kusan perceive the human body to be a composite of five "elements", a) the bones are represented "wood", forming the stronger framework around which the body is built, b) the flesh is represented as "earth", like clay which is moulded around the bones, c) the blood is represented as "water", flowing through the body, d) the "soul"/"spirit" is represented as "fire", keeping the body warm and active, and e) "breath"/"life" is represented as "air", keeping the fire lit, with the chest acting almost like bellows.
2) Upon death, the body breaks down: When a person dies, they stop breathing, so that's "air" or "life" gone (so here we see "life" as distinct from "soul"), but this means this also means that the "fire" or "spirit" also begins to "die" (it's believed that the human spirit never actually dies in Kusan culture, but we'll get onto that). As the body rots, the water (blood), the earth (the flesh), and the wood (the bones), slowly begin to return to the earth, but...
3) The soul is trapped: The body decays slowly, and because of this the fire/soul remains trapped and begins to "rot" in a similar way. Lingering around death, without the air in body, the fire begins to become "impure", so it needs to be let out, which is where cremation comes into it..
4) Corpses are cremated: To release the soul, the body is burnt, which reignites the flame and allows the spirit to rise out of the physical body and up into the air, towards the sun (in many areas, cremations are predominantly held between sunrise and noon). The remains (ash and burnt bone) are then placed in a jar, which is then buried in a wooded area, normally a specific area (in some areas, the blood is drained from the body before cremation as well, and poured into a river). Through this process, the body is broken down into its composite parts, which are all then returned to where they came from.
Running water (rivers, streams, waterfalls, etc.) are considered to be purifying, as are standing flames. "Inanimate" water (in the form of lakes, seas, oceans) is largely considered to be a collection point for impurities that have accumulated in the running water that feeds it (the major exception are water sources, which are considered "pure". Fish, as a result of this, are largely considered to be "impure" and avoided as something to eat.
Fire in all of its forms are referred to as "purifying", but fire in a destructive form is still considered something to be avoided (nobody wants a lamp falling over and burning there house down, but it will be rationalised by a local priest as "well maybe you annoyed the gods or something, pay attention to the way you're living your life").
Temples, as places to worship, are most often built around a central fire located on the highest point within the area. In a lot of places, temples are built on artificially raised foundations on top of this, raising the temple higher into the sky and closer to the sun (by extension, temples are predominantly located towards the eastern areas of settlement, closer to the rising sun). Something like a temple, like a ritual bath house, are located on the banks of the nearest river, spring or waterfall.
Temples are most often attended earlier in the day, when the sun is at its "strongest", while bath houses are attended at dawn and at dusk (removing the impurities gathered over night before attending the temple, and the impurities gathered during the day's work).
Most houses contain a hearth at the very, very least which, like the temple, is located on the eastern side of the house, although in increasingly wealthier households, this hearth becomes a separate "home shrine" and in the wealthiest of houses a separate room within the house (the very wealthiest of families extend this trend to a separate wing of the house). Cooking meat in a fire in and of itself is considered an act of sacrifice to the gods and spirits, with the fire/spirit of the animal being release upwards as the meat is cooked. In households which can afford a separate shrine/temple-room, a portion of this meat is placed within the shrine and cooked there, instead of on the main hearth, and then shared as part of the usual meal, although eaten first.
Similarly, most houses contain some sort of water store, for the purpose of washing the body. The water must be running, though, so washing is often a family activity, the head of the household pouring water for the rest of the family to wash under, after which the head of the household will have water poured over themselves by the family as well. In this activity, the head of the household fills in the role of the priest (or the priest fills in the role of household heads at bath houses).
Wooded areas are considered meeting places between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead (the trees reaching out from the earth and into the air, bridging the two), and this is where shrines to the ancestors as a whole will most often be found. Stones are often places above where cremated remains are buried, and depending on the social standing of the individual in life, these can vary from a small stone pile near the edge of the forest to a large stone pile in the interior. Generally speaking, though, these stone piles go unmarked. Nothing is present saying "here lies X", and instead it is up to the memory of the individual to find the place their ancestors are buried. (I think over time this might mean that larger piles might grow even larger, while smaller piles might end up getting forgotten about and possibly have their stones moved from place to place as people just steal from their piles).
I think this idea of purity, cremation, and attitudes towards fish (and other water-dwelling creatures), might lead to some impact on how the Kusan treat the bodies of enemies (instead of letting them come and collect their dead, they might just take them and cremate them separately to stop their spirits rotting, coming back and cursing the land), and how class might end up being viewed (if you live on the coast and you have to eat fish, then how might the social elite view you and your family?), as well as travel by boat, especially for long journeys (and what happens if someone dies on board?).
You can tell the same lie a thousand times,
But it never gets any more true,
So close your eyes once more and once more believe
That they all still believe in you.
Just one time.