There are a whole host of rituals and philosophies associated with birth and death in Tibet. This is directly related to the Buddhist and local animist culture there.
Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries. But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures.
This article looks at ancient Tibetan funeral traditions and is part of a series that highlights how different cultures care for their dead. Other parts of the series are about Ghanaian funeral traditions and Brazilian funeral traditionsamong others.
Note, these traditions may vary depending on the individual and their own beliefs. Leaving the body on the mountaintop was part of the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition of respecting the body. They considered it a generous act because the deceased was providing food for living animals to survive.
Sky Funeral Preparation The sky burial would take place at specific locations, usually at dawn, with one of the most popular places being the Drigung Monastery in Tibet. Before beginning the process of disassembling the body, everyone would participate in a ritual mantra chant.
Sometimes the body would be left whole, and then the remaining bones would be ground up and mixed with barley, flour, tea, and yak butter or milk for scavengers. Stupa burials involved placing the body by the Stupa, a Tibetan Buddhist religious moment and burial site. The body was dehydrated, wrapped in herbs and spices, and sometimes gold flakes were scattered.
Fire burials were cremation, as the body was burned on a pile of wood and straw and the ashes were scattered on a mountaintop or in a river.
Water burials were when the body was wrapped in white cloth and placed into the river. This was considered a lesser burial method compared to sky burials, and was primarily used for those with a low social status. Earth burials also were seen as a lesser burial method than sky burials.
Tree and cliff burials were not as common as the other customs, but tree burials were reserved for children. Cliff burials were when the body was placed in a wooden case inside a cave on a cliff.
Like our Facebook page and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on funeral news, innovative ideas, and ways we can help make things easier for you and the families you serve.Chopped up and fed to the vultures, a haunting glimpse into the closely-guarded tradition of the Tibetan sky burial.
Sky burials are a funerary practice in the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai. Sky burial (Tibetan: བྱ་གཏོར་, Wylie: bya gtor, lit. "bird-scattered") is a funeral practice in which a human corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose while exposed to the elements or to be eaten by scavenging animals, especially carrion birds.
It is a specific type of the general practice of excarnation. It is believed that the Drigung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism established the tradition in this land of snow, although there are other versions of its origin. The corpse is offered to the vultures.
It is believed that the vultures are Dakinis. Dakinis are the Tibetan equivalent of angels. In Tibetan, Dakini means "sky dancer".
Sky Burial—the most sacred funeral ceremony in Tibet Sky Burial - The first in our list is Sky Burial. Sky Burial is a very unique and rather macabre way of disposing the dead. Buddhist monks and priests play a large part in Tibetan funeral arrangements and rituals by praying and leading the procession.
After a death, a Buddhist astrologer, known as tsi-pa, will cast a death horoscope. Stages of Tibetan Sky Burial Rituals 1) The first stages would be the preparation of death. It may sound strange but as a Buddhist, The impermanence of life and everything surrounding us.