A sky burial 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, mostly practiced in remote areas in Mongolia, China and Tibet.
The majority of Tibetan people and many Mongols adhere to Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits.
There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it or nature may cause it to decompose.
The function of the sky burial is simply to dispose of the remains in as generous a way as possible (the origin of the practice’s Tibetan name).
For Tibetan Buddhists, sky burial and cremation are templates of instructional teaching on the impermanence of life.
Jhator is considered an act of generosity on the part of the deceased, since the deceased and their surviving relatives are providing food to sustain living beings. Such generosity and compassion for all beings are important virtues in Buddhism.
In much of Tibet and Qinghai, the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and due to the scarcity of fuel and timber, sky burials were typically more practical than the traditional Buddhist practice of cremation.
In the past, cremation was limited to high lamas and some other dignitaries, but modern technology and difficulties with sky burial have led to an increased use of cremation by commoners.