When a Sherpa passes away in one of the Himalayan villages, friends and family will gather for a memorial. Someone from the family will go for consultation with a Lama who will determine for them how long they should wait for the services and in what manner it should take place. The deceased is brought to a special place high in the hills and a Lama will preside as the remains are cremated. The ashes may be brought down below and cast into a river to pass their soul on to heaven. Some of the remains may be left within the base of an unmarked "chorten" or memorial stone. Well constructed chortens are square pillars made of smoothed stone. The funeral will go on in a sense for up to a month with memorials and mourning. The expenses can be very high to host so many gatherings and for the other arrangements.
For 49 days after the death the family will also carry out a daily ritual
in honor of the departed. Every morning for that time they will burn juniper
branches and mix in barley flour. The smoke is thick and pungent, and as the
family spreads the smoke through their home the spirit of their loved one lingering
there will smell it and take it in as their feast. After the 49 days the spirit
will move on. Within the three years after the funeral the family and friends
will meet together for a final memorial. Since there is no marked gravestone
to visit they carry the memory with them always in their hearts.