The shri-tal was a Cardassian ritual that was carried out when a person was about to die. The tradition involved a dying Cardassian revealing their closely guarded secrets to a family member, secrets which could then be used against the family's enemies. Though the ritual normally involved family members, there were a few exceptions. (DS9 episode: "Ties of Blood and Water")

In 2373, Kira Nerys agreed to participate in the shri-tal ritual with Tekeny Ghemor before he died. Kira recorded all of the information Ghemor gave her, which was in turn passed on to Starfleet. (DS9 episode: "Ties of Blood and Water") That same year, Enabran Tain prepared to engage in shri-tal with Elim Garak; however the only thing Tain revealed was that Garak was his son and Tain was proud of him. Tain also asked Garak to wreak his own vengeance on the Dominion for what they'd done. (DS9 episode: "In Purgatory's Shadow")

In 2375, Iliana Ghemor learned that her father had performed the shri-tal ritual with Kira, something which angered her greatly. (DS9 novel: The Soul Key)

In 2377, Ro Laren listened to the recordings Kira had made during the shri-tal ritual and heard Skrain Dukat mention that Iliana Ghemor was alive and that he knew where to find her. (DS9 novel: Fearful Symmetry)