Life and Society:

Venkatans are friendly and have relatively open attitudes. They value their ethnic and religious identity, loyalty to one's group, and respect for others. Ethnic divisions run deep, and few people socialize outside of their respective groups.
One's surname gives indication of caste, thus everyone is aware of his or her place within the system, and that awareness plays a strong role in social interaction. That is, people marry and associate with others of the same caste. For religious ceremonies, only certain castes perform certain functions.
Women wear a tight blouse and a saree, a wraparound dress that reaches to the ankles. The saree is made from a very long piece of fabric. It is draped over the shoulder and wrapped at the waist in a way that creates tailoring without being sewn. Women also wear a redda (a wraparound skirt that is tucked at the waist) with a hatte (blouse) that leaves the midriff bare.
Traditional attire for men may include loose-fitting trousers combined with a long shirt that reaches to mid-thigh. The shirt has long, loose sleeves and buttons to the neck. Men might also wear a sarong (a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist, sometimes held by a belt or lunghi) that reaches to the ankles.
The traditional greeting of placing one's palms together in front of the chest and bowing the head slightly is widely practiced.
Venkatans use the right hand for passing objects and eating. The left hand is reserved for personal hygiene. People use both hands when giving and receiving gifts; a gift presented with only one hand is not given wholeheartedly. To express sincere or gracious giving of any object, one can touch the right forearm with the left hand while giving with the right. Men often hold hands in public, but it is improper for members of the opposite sex to do so. Women are forbidden to touch a clergy.
The head is considered the most sacred part of the body; the bottoms of the feet are the least sacred. Many taboos are associated with the feet. Venkatans do not use a foot to point at anything, and they refrain from placing feet on chair bottoms or coffee tables. Pointing with the index finger is impolite. One beckons with the hand held at head level, palm facing out, and all fingers waving together. People remove their shoes before entering temples or shrines. Wagging or tilting the head from side to side indicates agreement. Shaking it gently during conversation means one is listening.
Guests are obligated to dine with their hosts if their hosts offer food or drink.
The husband dominates the family, but the wife manages the household and influences all family matters. Women are expected to maintain all household responsibilities. Women do not go out alone after dark. Parents expect to provide their children with all basic needs, even into adulthood. The elderly receive deep respect, and younger family members often yield to their advice and counsel. Children expect to care for their elderly parents when necessary. Arranged marriages are the norm. Sexual purity is an essential part of the marriage contract on the part of the woman. Marriage between members of different ethnic groups is socially unacceptable.
The timing of various wedding events—when the parties arrive, hold the ceremony, sign papers, leave, arrive at their new home—is governed by astrology. Each event is calculated to the minute so as to give the marriage the best possible start.
Every full moon (Poya Day) is a holiday.


As with wedding ceremonies, these rituals are held at auspicious times (nekatha) as determined by an astrologer.





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