Human burials in the sky count on assistance from vultures

When some Tibetan Buddhists die, their bodies are given what's known as a "sky burial." The corpse is set at a high elevation and vultures are invited to carry away and feast on the remains.

From the class blog for an Emory University course titled Anthropology of Death and Burial:

For Tibetans, the sky burial serves both practical and spiritual functions. Often, the ground is frozen, making it difficult to dig graves, making sky burials an appealing alterative. Also, some of the central values in Tibetan culture revolve around being humble, generous, and honoring of nature; sky burials allow the physical bodies of Tibetans to be returned to the earth in a way that generously provides a meal for the vultures and very minimally disturbs the earth. 

Makes sense.

The short documentary above explores the practice in the Tibetan town of Taktsang Lhamo that has become a tourist destination for those curious about sky burials"

For the town's Tibetan Buddhist population, it is a sacred means of helping the dead's spirit transition to the next life – a final earthly offering to creatures believed to have the wisdom of deities. However, for much of the rest of the world, the tradition is a morbid curiosity, and increasingly attracts unwelcome tourists, whose pictures end up in all corners of the internet. An accomplished work of contemporary anthropology, Bush's film is a powerful examination of nature and culture, tradition and modernity, oppression and exploitation.

image: kingma photos/Shutterstock

(via Daily Grail)