There are many different customs and traditions followed by people in different places. These customs and traditions have a major impact on the majority of what people do in life, including marking death.
Tibet is a region in Asia that is dominated by mountains and high plateaus. It is one of the many places in Asia in which their cultural practices have not been completely overtaken by western practices.
The people of Tibet have various ways in which they bury their dead and out of all of these ways, the one that is most widely used by commoners is the Sky Burial. The Sky Burial simply involves the chopping and feeding of bodies of loved ones to vultures on rocks or mountains.
When a Tibetan commoner dies, the body would be wrapped in white cloth and left for 3 to 5 days to allow the spirit to pass and go to heaven in peace. During this time, monks would read scriptures to the body to redeem it of any sin.
After this, the family would then choose a lucky day in which the body would be sent to the burial performers who would perform the rites on the body. The body breakers would then drag the body to the mountains and chop it into pieces for the vultures to eat.
The body breakers do not do it solemnly but with joy and laughter to guide the soul of the deceased from darkness unto light. A 'Su' smoke is usually made in order to attract vultures to the ceremony. The vultures are seen as 'holy birds' who would devour only the body and would not attack other innocent creatures nearby.
The Tibetans believe that when the vultures eat the body, it is proof that the person is sinless and has passed on to heaven. Any remains like bones left by the vultures are usually ground and mixed with their staple food for vultures to eat.
Feeding the dead to vultures is not the only way Tibetans mark death. The death of a high priest or Lama is usually marked by a Stupa burial. It is the noblest form of burial in which the body of the Lama is buried in a Stupa (a rare Tibetan burial site for Lama and living Buddha) and then sprinkled with gold flakes and rare spices.
The Aristocrats or monks are buried by cremation and their ashes are usually spread in water or scattered in the wind. Child corpses are usually buried in tree coffins to prevent other children from seeing them.
Beggars and people of low status usually have their bodies wrapped in white cloth and thrown in the river after burial rites after been done on the body.
Earth burial is usually reserved for criminals, people killed by robbers, and people who have a bad reputation. The people of Tibet believe that burying them in the ground would penalize them by sending their souls straight to hell.
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