Priest of Tibetan Medicine
Dhakmar, Upper Mustang
Dr. Khetub is one of the last priests in the village of Dhakmar, who specializes in Tibetan Medicine. Once someone dies, Dr. Khetub is responsible to look after their time of birth and the time of death, to determine what sign they belong to, and which particular funeral procession to follow. He is also one of the only traditional doctor in Dhakmar, and is responsible for healing people, during injuries and sickness. Dr. Khetub organizes the funeral procession, with Lamas, from other villages.
Chhamba Dukta currently resides in the small village of Tiri, which is around 30-45 minutes’ walk away from Kagbeni. He conducted sky burials originally in his village in Dolpa, and still conducts it in the surrounding villages.
Once, the funeral process is determined, the Lama reads a book which has all the procedures mentioned in it. He goes around the body thrice, reading the holy book, and gives instructions on what to do. Once, the preceding puja finishes, the body is taken to a spot fixed for funeral, and the body breaker cuts the body into pieces. The Lama plays damaru, and an instrument made from the bones of a human knee, which is the invitation to the vultures, to come and feed on the deceased body.
Kagbeni and Dhakmar, Upper Mustang
Body breaking is considered extremely holy in this Tibetan culture. Body breakers are supposed to go to heaven.
Once the Lama gives instructions, the body breaker starts chopping the body into pieces. Only the tip of the fingers (containing nails) & top part of the head is chopped off, as it’s considered impure for the vultures, and burnt with the remains of the bones that’s left after the vultures have fed.