How To Plan A Sky Burial On A Budget
I view other cultures like the entries at a Sizzler: a buffet that you can pick and choose from to fill up your plate, and, if necessary, use force to seize control of the shrimp. When I learned of Tibetan sky burials, I knew I had to have one of my own.
Buddhist monasteries in Tibet practice the sky burial, a funerary ritual in which the deceased’s body is cut up and left on a mountaintop where it is eaten by scavenging birds. After heeding the advice of the column, “Anyone Can Travel The World And Blog Just Like Me,” I decided to hop on over to a Tibetan monastery to observe this for myself. Unfortunately upon scaling the mountain, I found myself in an altercation with Vice journalists. A single journalist may seem deceptively easy to subdue with a simple headlock, but getting between an entire pack of Vice journalists and their interview subjects can prove dangerous. I had to settle for viewing the back of their beanied heads as they watched the funeral and shouted cries of, “Dude,” “Gnarly,” and “So metal.”
It’s about time we take this practice to the good ol’ US of America. We’ve improved upon plenty of cultural traditions, like turning ceremonial pipes into the phat doobies of today.
Here’s how I was able to practice my own sky burial on a sensible budget of $300:
Step 1: Procure a dead body
I visited a nursing home, and befriended the frailest old person I could find. For legal reasons I can’t use his real name, but let’s call him Skipper. Skipper had no next of kin, so after hundreds of hours of playing gin rummy and listening to his stories about the war, I easily slid into the papery confines of his heart. I was given power of attorney, and simply had to wait until the end of his natural life.
Step 2: Purchase a flock of scavenging birds
Purchasing scavenging birds is extremely difficult to do in the great state of California. It is both expensive and unpleasant having to deal with the snobs who become evasive once you tell them you’re planning to feed the birds the body of a recently deceased octogenarian. In addition, a sky burial involves multiple birds, so to recreate the ritual I required at least seven birds.
I tried entering the mysterious world of pigeon-catching, but was once again elbowed out by a roving gang of Vice journalists. After that I struck gold: the local pet store was selling parakeets for a mere $14 per bird. I could easily buy several and still have enough money to get a few cuttlebones.
Step 3: Divide the body into edible portions
This is rather self-explanatory. If you need further advice on handling human remains, please refer to our comprehensive guide: “Wearing The Flesh Of Your Enemies.”
Step 4: Entice the birds to eat Skipper
Here’s where I hit my first major roadblock. The dead-eyed teenage washout at the pet store failed to inform me that parakeets are non-carnivorous. So when I presented my birds with their funerary meal, they simply preened amongst the bits and pieces of Skipper.
Consulting my Parakeets Fanciers magazine, I found that parakeets go bonkers for millet seed. I used Martha Stewart’s revolutionary bird-feeder construction method of slathering peanut butter on a pine cone and dipping it in seeds (in my case I substituted the pine cone for cubed Skipper).
This managed to meet the parakeets’ finicky standards, and they eagerly nibbled away at my upcycled old man bird feeder. Unfortunately, the parakeets’ delicate beaks are better suited for cracking open seed husks than rending carrion. Thus it took several weeks and frequent applications of peanut butter and millet for the funeral to be completed.
Next time I think I’ll try a more tenacious bird, like the Canadian Goose.