Unit-6 Custom & Culture: Sky Burial – Class 9 English

Sky Burials is the reading text included in the class 9 English book of New curriculum. In this article we have published the reading exercise of the text of class 9 and grammar.

Sky Burials Text Summary

The author recounts their experience witnessing a Tibetan Sky Burial near Tagong in North Eastern Sichuan. Initially unsure if foreigners were allowed to witness the ritual, they hiked up to the burial site and discovered a stone slab surrounded by Tibetan prayer flags. The presence of vultures and a body bag indicated that a sky burial was about to take place.

They asked a Tibetan nearby for confirmation and were allowed to stay but not take photos. Concerned for their children’s well-being, they gave their youngest son an iPad to keep him distracted. The older children were informed about the upcoming ritual and given the choice to stay or leave, and they chose to stay. The body breaker began carving up the body, and the vultures eagerly devoured the flesh within minutes. The body breaker then pulverized the bones, mixed them with yak butter and barley flour, and threw them into the air. The author reflects on the significance of the sky burial for Tibetans, viewing the vultures as angels guiding the soul to its next life.

Despite the gruesome nature of the ritual, a sense of peace and understanding descended upon the scene, and the author felt proud of their children’s maturity. The youngest child remained oblivious, engrossed in playing Minecraft on the iPad throughout the experience.

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Key points from the text:

  1. Sky burial is a traditional Tibetan Buddhist funeral practice where the deceased’s body is fed to vultures.
  2. It is believed that sky burial helps the soul of the deceased ascend to a higher state.
  3. This practice is considered sacred and respectful for disposing of the dead.
  4. Foreigners are often prohibited from witnessing sky burials.
  5. The author and his family were fortunate to witness a sky burial during their travels in Tibet.
  6. Initially apprehensive, the author was impressed by the reverence with which the sky burial was conducted.
  7. The author’s children also witnessed the sky burial and understood its cultural significance.
  8. The experience deeply moved the author and his family, finding it special and meaningful.
  9. Sky burial holds great significance in Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
  10. Witnessing a sky burial offered the author and his family a unique insight into Tibetan culture and rituals.

Glossary of the Text

Burial /ˈbɛriəl/ – the act or ceremony of burying a dead body

Butcher /ˈbʊtʃər/ – a person who cuts up and sells meat

Carve /kɑrv/ – to cut or shape a solid material, such as wood or stone, by cutting away pieces

Chant /tʃænt/ – to sing or say a word or phrase repeatedly

Corpse /kɔːrps/ – a dead body, especially of a human being

Cultural /ˈkʌltʃərəl/ – relating to the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular society or group

Custom /ˈkʌstəm/ – a traditional way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time

Dakini /ˈdɑːkini/ – in Tibetan Buddhism, a female deity or spiritual figure

Dead /dɛd/ – no longer alive; lifeless

Effect /ɪˈfɛkt/ – a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause

Engrossed /ɪnˈɡroʊst/ – having all one’s attention or interest absorbed by someone or something

Fascination /ˌfæsəˈneɪʃən/ – a strong attraction or interest

Forbidden /fərˈbɪd(ə)n/ – not allowed; prohibited

Frenzy /ˈfrɛnzi/ – a state or period of uncontrolled excitement or wild behavior

Gesture /ˈdʒɛstʃər/ – a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning

Gruesome /ˈɡruːsəm/ – causing repulsion or horror; grisly

Hood /hʊd/ – a covering for the head and neck, often attached to a cloak or coat

Impatient /ɪmˈpeɪʃənt/ – having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked

Intelligence /ɪnˈtɛlədʒəns/ – the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills

Isolated /ˈaɪsəleɪtɪd/ – far away from other places, buildings, or people; remote

Mallet /ˈmælɪt/ – a hammer with a large, usually wooden head, used especially for hitting a chisel or knocking wooden pieces together

Mixture /ˈmɪkstʃər/ – a substance made by mixing other substances together

Monastery /ˈmɑːnəstɛri/ – a building or buildings occupied by a community of monks living under religious vows

Mere /mɪr/ – used to emphasize how small or insignificant someone or something is

Middle-aged /ˈmɪdəl eɪdʒd/ – of or relating to the period of life between youth and old age, usually considered as the years between 45 and 65

Next /nɛkst/ – coming immediately after the present one in order, rank, or space

Omen /ˈoʊmən/ – an event or phenomenon that is believed to portend a good or evil outcome

Outsiders /ˌaʊtˈsaɪdərz/ – people who are not part of a particular group or community

Peace /pis/ – a state or period in which there is no war or a war has ended

Phrases /ˈfreɪzɪz/ – a small group of words standing together as a conceptual unit, typically forming a component of a clause

Prayer /prɛər/ – a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity

Profound /prəˈfaʊnd/ – having or showing great knowledge or insight

Pulverise /ˈpʌlvəraɪz/ – to reduce (a substance) to fine particles

Reincarnation /ˌriːɪnkɑrˈneɪʃən/ – the rebirth of a soul in a new body after death

Religious /rɪˈlɪdʒəs/ – relating to or believing in a religion

Ritual /ˈrɪtʃuəl/ – a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order

Scarf /skɑrf/ – a length or square of fabric worn around the neck or head

Secret /ˈsiːkrət/ – not known or seen or not meant to be known or seen by others

Seemed /simd/ – give the impression or sensation of being something or having a particular quality

Site /saɪt/ – an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed

Sky /skaɪ/ – the region of the atmosphere and outer space seen from the earth

Slab /slæb/ – a large, thick, flat piece of stone, concrete, or wood, typically rectangular

Soul /soʊl/ – the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal

Stumbled /ˈstʌmbəld/ – trip or momentarily lose one’s balance; almost fall

Surprisingly /səˈpraɪzɪŋli/ – in a way that is unexpected; causing surprise

Take place /teɪk pleɪs/ – happen; occur

Tearing /ˈtɛrɪŋ/ – pull or rip (something) apart or to pieces with force

Thrilling /ˈθrɪlɪŋ/ – causing excitement and pleasure; exhilarating

Tibetans /tɪˈbɛtənz/ – people from Tibet or of Tibetan descent

Traditional /trəˈdɪʃənəl/ – existing in or as part of a tradition; long-established

Translated /trænzˈleɪtɪd/ – express the sense of (words or text) in another language

Understand /ˌʌndərˈstænd/ – perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or speaker)

Unbelievable /ˌʌnbɪˈliːvəbəl/ – not able to be believed; unlikely to be true

Vessel /ˈvɛsəl/ – a ship or large boat

Waiting /ˈweɪtɪŋ/ – the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or event

Witnessing /ˈwɪtnəsɪŋ/ – see (an event, typically a crime or accident) happen

Wiser /ˈwaɪzər/ – having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment

Yak /jæk/ – a large domesticated wild ox with shaggy hair, humped shoulders, and large horns, used in Tibet as a pack animal and for its milk, meat, and hide

Young /jʌŋ/ – having lived or existed for only a short time

Zenith /ˈzɛnɪθ/ – the time at which something is most powerful or successful; the peak

Exercise of Sky Burial Class – 9

A. Choose the words from the box that match the given meanings.

profound – very great

frenzy- a state of great activity and strong emotion

gruesome- very unpleasant and filling with horror

forbidden- not allowed

omen- a sign of what is going to happen in the future

fascination- very strong attraction

engrossed- involved in something with whole attention

pulverise- – to make something into a fine powder

B. Write True for true statements and False for false ones.

a. Foreign visitors are welcome to see Sky Burial rituals. ⇒ False

b. The visitors are not allowed to take photos of the rituals. ⇒ True

c. The vultures took more than fifteen minutes to finish the entire corpse. ⇒ False

d. The Tibetans perceive the body as a vessel for the soul. ⇒ True

e. The youngest son of the writer was busy with his toys. ⇒ False

f. The author visited the burial sites with his wife and three children. ⇒ True

C. Answer the following questions.

a. Why did the author visit a traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery?

⇒ The author visited a traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery to experience the secret ritual of Sky Burials.

b. What did the author see on the hill?

⇒ The author saw about 100 vultures and a body bag on the hill.

c. Why did the author give the iPad to his youngest son?

⇒ The author gave the iPad to his youngest son because he was too young to see the ritual.

d. Describe the appearance of a Rogyapa, the body breaker.

⇒ The Rogyapa, body breaker, stormed up the side of the mountain. He was dressed in a thick, dark scarlet coloured coat with a black hood. With a butcher knife in hand, he wasted no time in carving up the body.

e. What did the body breaker do after collecting the bones?

⇒ After collecting the bones, the body breaker began to pulverise them with a mallet and mixed that with yak butter and barley flour. He then walked into the middle of the vultures and threw the mixture high in the air.

f. What is considered to be a bad sign?

⇒ It is considered a bad omen if vultures don’t eat the body or even if small bits are left.

g. Why did the author feel proud?

⇒ The author felt proud of his children’s maturity and intelligence.

Grammar I

A. Match the questions in column A with the answers in column B.

a. Are you ready?- v. Yes, nearly.

b. Can I carry something for you?- iv. No, it’s OK. It’s not that heavy.

c. May I use your phone? – ii. Yes, of course.

d. Has anyone seen my bag?- i. Yes, it’s on the chair.

e. Would you like to come to a party?- iii. Yes, I’d love to.

B. How do you ask questions in these situations?

a. You want to know if it is raining.

Is it raining?

b. You want to know if Harish plays football.

Do you play football?

c. You want to know if the bus is on time.

Is the bus on time?

d. You want to know if your friend, Ramesh went to the market yesterday.

Did you go to the market yesterday?

e. You want to know if it is Tuesday today.

Is it Tuesday today?

f. You want to know if your teacher opened your letter.

Did you open my letter?

g. You want to know if your brother has gone to sleep.

Have you gone to sleep?

h. You want to know if there will be a food party.

Will there be a food party?

C. Circle the correct answer.

Are you busy today?

Yes, I am. ✔

Is it too hot in here for you?

No, I’m fine, thanks. ✔

Tell me, did you steal my money?

No, I didn’t steal your money. ✔

Can I carry your bags?

It’s all right, thanks.✔

C. Write yes/no questions for these statements.

a. The family has got three mobile phones.

Has the family got three mobile phones?

b. Januka works at the supermarket.

Does Januka work at the supermarket?

c. Anita is learning English.

Is Anita learning English?

d. The meeting will be held next Tuesday.

Will the meeting be held next Tuesday?

e. Tanka switched off the computer.

Did Tanka switch off the computer?

f. He went to the cinema yesterday.

Did he go to the cinema yesterday?

g. Everyone is ready.

Is anyone ready?

h. It is raining outside.

Is it raining outside?

i. Vicky lost her credit card.

Has Vicky lost her credit card?

j. She’d done the work on time.

Has she done the work on time?

Writing I

Write a short essay about ‘Our Culture Our Pride’.

Our Culture, Our Pride

Introduction: Culture is the essence of who we are as individuals and as a society. It encompasses our beliefs, values, traditions, language, arts, and customs, shaping our identity and providing a sense of belonging. Our culture is not just a part of us; it is our pride. It reflects our history, heritage, and the wisdom passed down from our ancestors. Embracing and preserving our culture is crucial as it connects us to our roots and strengthens our collective identity. In this essay, we will explore why our culture is something to be cherished and celebrated, as it plays a vital role in shaping our present and future.

Preserving Traditions

One of the primary reasons why our culture is our pride is the rich tapestry of traditions it embodies. Each culture has its unique customs and practices that have been nurtured over generations. These traditions serve as a link between the past and the present, connecting us to our ancestors and providing a sense of continuity. Preserving and passing down these traditions to future generations is essential for maintaining our cultural heritage and ensuring that our identity remains intact. It is through these traditions that we can truly appreciate the wisdom, values, and knowledge of our ancestors.

Cultural Diversity

Another aspect that makes our culture our pride is its incredible diversity. The world is a mosaic of different cultures, each with its own beauty and significance. Our culture represents the diversity of human experiences, showcasing a myriad of perspectives, languages, cuisines, and art forms. This diversity enriches our lives, broadens our horizons, and fosters mutual respect and understanding among different communities. It is through embracing and appreciating this diversity that we can create a harmonious and inclusive society where everyone feels valued and respected.

Identity and Sense of Belonging

Our culture provides us with a strong sense of identity and belonging. It shapes our values, beliefs, and behaviors, giving us a framework to navigate the world around us. When we understand and embrace our culture, we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in society. It gives us a sense of pride in our roots and allows us to celebrate our unique heritage. Cultural identity not only gives us a sense of belonging within our community but also helps us connect with people from similar cultural backgrounds, creating bonds and fostering a sense of unity.

Preserving Traditional Knowledge and Wisdom

Our culture carries within it a wealth of traditional knowledge and wisdom that has been accumulated over centuries. From traditional medicine and farming techniques to artistic expressions and storytelling, our culture holds valuable insights that can be relevant and beneficial even in the modern world. By preserving and promoting our cultural practices, we ensure that this knowledge is not lost or forgotten. It allows us to learn from our past, adapt it to the present, and contribute to the shaping of our future.


Our culture is our pride because it defines us, provides us with a sense of belonging, and connects us to our past, present, and future. It is through our cultural heritage that we find our unique voice, celebrate diversity, and cultivate a deep appreciation for the wisdom and traditions passed down to us. Preserving and cherishing our culture is not only a matter of personal pride but also a responsibility we owe to future generations. Let us embrace, protect, and promote our culture, recognizing its intrinsic value and the invaluable role it plays in shaping our collective identity and society as a whole.