Purdah* is the Goddess of not being able to speak your mind. She is the daughter of Deliquesce the Goddess of Dissolution and Poll the God of Democracy. This Goddesses’ demure and modest appearance hides a razor sharp intelligence and some strong opinions, but we will never get to know what they are. She is outwardly apolitical in all things. Ideologically she stands as a paragon of fairness. Her sect is particularly popular amongst public servants and people who have a professional image to maintain. When two worshippers of Purdah meet, they will greet one another with a unique gesture where they each extend their tongue and bite down upon it.
The great festival of Purdah does not occur with any predictable regularity. However, it must not happen less than once in five years. It can take place at any time of year, but most often occurs in May. Unusually, this year the festival of Purdah is taking place in mid-December. This is, however, proving popular with worshippers, as most people were planning to choose their turkey around then anyway (and it’s given parents everywhere a “get out of Nativity Play free” card).
When a festival of Purdah is announced, all followers will receive a stern letter from the central church to remind them of the correct conduct during this holy time. From the time of the announcement until the end of the day of the festival itself, followers of Purdah maintain a strict vow of silence. That is, they are not allowed to talk. They still make a noise though. If you stand next to one and listen carefully, you will hear a low grinding noise from their dentures. (Their original teeth were worn down long ago.). During the run up to the festival they are also forbidden from doing the ironing. They have to avoid the press at all costs.
On the day of the festival of Purdah itself, all the children are given a day off from studying and temporary temples are set up in their schools. Outside each temple stands a phalanx of cute dogs waiting patiently to be photographed for the local newspaper. Spread on the floor in the centre of each temple there is a bulging and unsightly rug which appears to have a lot of things swept under it. My local temple’s rug has a strange lump in it shaped just like the Russia Report.
Each worshipper will visit their local temple at some point during the festival. On arrival, they will check in with the Servants of Purdah (priesthood) who sit behind a desk drinking tea and eating Hobnobs to keep their strength up throughout the long day. You are only allowed one visit to the temple per festival. The Servants ensure no one tries to visit twice, and generally maintain order and decorum. They do so with great gentility. They are very civil servants. Although they do not have “official robes” as such, they dress in bland and neutral clothing. Slogans on clothing and the colours red, blue, yellow and green are forbidden. The leader of the Servants of Purdah is always a re-incarnation of the same soul, this is why they are known as the “Returning Officer”.
The Servants of Purdah will give each registered worshipper a slip of paper when they arrive and tick them off the list. The votary will then retire to the privacy of a curtained booth where they will meditate and then write their prayer on the slip of paper. On leaving the booth, the prayer slips are ceremonially posted into an armoured black metal box. Once the temples close at the end of the long festival day, the priesthood will all go outside and shout, scream and generally swear their tits off with relief that it is all over.
One of the arch enemies of Purdah is the demon Kalamos Kleptomania, also known as the “Pilferer of Pencils”. Don’t worry. Kalamos can be easily defeated with a piece of string (or a bobble chain if you’re from a posh constituency).
*Purdah would like me to make one thing clear from the outset. She does not actually like her name. It was stolen and didn’t mean something very nice in the first place. She toyed for a while with being known as “Pre-Election Period”, but this didn’t work out as people kept mistaking her for a goddess of menstruation. Purdah would really prefer a melifluous moniker , so do let her know if you have a good idea for a new name.
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