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ulture is peoples’ way of life. It is the norms through which ethnic groups around the world are differentiated from one another. This is to say that what is right in Asia might be wrong in Africa. And the Tibetans’ way of burying their dead is a perfect example of that.

The Tibetans are mostly found in China but they are also clustered in small groups in India and Nepal. These people existing only in few thousand still care and respect their culture. I’m not going to dive into the origin of these people more than I should, so let’s go into their burial culture.

Jhator: the sky burial

There are so many ways of burial cultures. Ranging from simply putting bodies in six feet holes in the ground to turning them to ashes. The Tibetans’ way is to feed their loved ones to vultures. They believe that this is the best way of sending their late them to heaven.

The Jhator burial is often scheduled for 08h00 to 11h00 (Beijing time) in the morning. Jhator monks will be summoned right after the death of the individual has been confirmed. The monks will then perform the ritual after which the hair is removed from the head to be burned with some other irrelevant parts of the body. Big bones such as the skull and vertebrae are shattered into small consumable bits. And within a period of an hour, the body would have been consumed by the vultures.

A burial master crushing the bones of a corpse. | source

It’s always considered a bad omen each time the vultures leave leftovers. And when they refuse to eat a particular corpse then the individual has many sins on his neck. This is often the reason family members of the dead are not allowed to attend the burial but are told to stay home and pray.

Restrictions

The presence of vultures is the key element in this form of burial. The population of vultures at a monastery in 2003 was 230, 250 in 2009, and 200 in 2012. Even though their population appears to be stable there is a need to protect them, especially in a generation when many species of animal risk extinction. Sky burial masters do not allow the culture for people who died of deadly infections. People who died of diseases such as leprosy are either cremated or buried.

A Similar culture from another tribe

Aghori is another ethnic group in Asia predominantly in India. Like the Tibets they do not bury dead bodies. Instead of feeding the bodies of their loved ones to vultures like the way of the Tibets they consume it themselves. They believe that the soul of a human being is pure but has been tainted with greed, hate e.t.c over the course of his life. In other to recover this purity they need to feed on the flesh right after having sex with the corpse.

I know these sound ridiculous but it’s their cultures and if you’re not a Tibetan or an Aghorian you may never comprehend these beliefs.

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