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Tibetan sky burial: a mysterious funeral tradition

Tibet, this plateau located in the Himalayas, is known for its unique culture and beautiful landscapes. In this mysterious land, there is a mysterious way of funeral: sky burial. Heavenly burial is a kind of supreme respect for the deceased by the Tibetan people and a manifestation of the cycle of life. This article will detail the origins of heavenly burial, the ritual process, and its significance in Tibetan culture.


The origin of sky burial

Sky burial has its origins in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition, dating back to the 8th century. According to historical records, early Tibetan monks believed that the body was only the sustenance of the soul and that after death, the soul would leave the body and enter reincarnation. Therefore, the body of the deceased can be supplied as food to other living things, and this funeral method is not only a respect for life but also contributes to the cycle of nature.


The process of the sky burial ceremony

The sky burial ceremony usually takes place early in the morning and needs to be completed in strict compliance with Tibetan customs. The whole process is divided into the following steps:


Pray for the deceased: Family members will ask monks to chant prayers for the deceased, praying that the soul of the deceased can rest and smoothly enter samsara.

Disposing of the remains: The remains of the deceased are placed in a specific place and processed into a state suitable for predators. In some areas, the handling of remains is done by specialized "bone cullers".


Attracting carnivores: After the remains are processed, monks or bone cullers blow horns at the top of the mountain to attract predators such as vultures.

Carnivores eat: After carnivores such as vultures gather, monks or bone cullers disassemble the remains for these animals to eat. Carnivores eat the remains clean, which is considered to respect the cycle of life.

Collecting bones: After the carnivore has eaten the remains, the monks or bone pickers collect the remaining bones. These bones will be ground into powder and then mixed with wheat flour and water to make dough cakes that will be fed to predators again.

Sacrifices: Finally, family members worship mountain gods and land gods at or near the heavenly burial platform to thank them for accepting the body of the deceased.


The significance of sky burial in Tibetan culture

Sky burial is a unique interpretation of death by the Tibetan people, which reflects the respect and awe of life in Tibetan culture. In Tibetan culture, life is seen as a continuous cyclical process, and death is not the end, but another stage of the soul's reincarnation. Through sky burial, the body of the deceased can return to nature, become the nourishment of other creatures, and embody the continuation of life.

Sky burial is also an environmentally friendly funeral method. In the plateau area, land resources are very limited, and sky burial does not occupy land, does not pollute the environment, and conforms to the principle of a natural cycle. In addition, sky burials help maintain ecological balance, as bone cultivars and monks provide a source of food for carnivores through sky burials, maintaining the stability of animal and plant communities.


Respect local customs and traditions

Although celestial burial is a mysterious form of funeral, we should travel with awe and respect local customs and traditions. Uninvited travelers or photography enthusiasts should not visit the funeral ceremony, so as not to interfere with the life and cultural traditions of the local people.

Tibetan sky burial is a mysterious and solemn funeral method that demonstrates the reverence and respect of Tibetan culture for life. By learning about sky burial, we can gain a deeper understanding of Tibetan culture and learn to respect and cherish the meaning of life.