Sky Burial: A Bizarre Way of 'Burying' the Dead

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Sky Burial: A Bizarre Way of 'Burying' the Dead

 

For the most part, the dead rest underground. Many countries across the world have been burying their dead for centuries. However, some cultures refuse to follow the norm. A perfect example of this is the Tibetan sky burial – a burial that isn’t a burial at all.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

Instead of burying underground, the dead are shaved and then cut into rough pieces. While the bones are pulverized and mixed with barley and yak butter, the meat is taken and tossed on mountains. The pieces of the body are then left uncovered and exposed to the elements which attract vultures and other carrion birds. The behavior of the predators has meaning as well. For instance, if the birds won’t eat the body, it is considered a bad omen. 

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia (Wikimedia Commons)

 

According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, sky burials are practiced in several countries such as Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan, Mongolia, and India. It was first observed in the Vajrayana Buddhist religion. However, this strange ‘burying’ of the dead is most prevalent in Tibet usually because it is much easier for them, as the ground in the country is often covered in a layer of permafrost.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

Aside from the Vajrayana Buddhist, the other religion that practices sky burial is Zoroastrianism, which is a little bit different. The corpse is left on ‘dakhmas’, special outdoor podiums, where they dry in the sun. The bones are also pulverized, mixed with charcoal, and washed away with rainwater after being bleached for several years. Aside from that, they use the sun to cleanse the bones instead of birds. Aboriginal Australians also perform this type of sky burial. The difference is that they use scaffolding to support their dead, which are left intact.

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