Recently I saw a simple and beautifully shot movie Himalaya. Set in the Tibetan plateau, it depicts the Dolpo culture with perfect authenticity. A commenter on Netflix pointed out that it is one of the rare Himalayan movies that is not about mountaineering or monks. Its theme is the conflict between old and new and its plot is the survival of indigenous people in some of the harshest geographical conditions on this planet.

An interesting ritual depicted in the movie was celestial burial i.e. leaving the dead to be eaten by vultures. As opposed to a similar Parsi ritual, the Dolpo people (and several Tibetan communities, for that matter) cut the body into smaller pieces of flesh that make it easier for vultures to feast.

The reason for celestial burials appears to be more practical than spiritual. Says Wiki:

The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it, or nature may let it decompose. So the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains. In much of Tibet the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and with fuel and timber scarce, a sky burial is often more practical than cremation.

Here is an eyewitness’s account of a sky burial.


And you thought I was done with dead bodies and eating of human flesh.