Ladakhis practice cremation of their dead except in a few instances such as children or persons who died of smallpox. After a ceremony in the home of the deceased, the corpse is carried to a type of walled oven where, with many prayers by attending lamas, it is cremated.
The ashes are then scattered in a holy river, but persons of high standing will have their ashes placed in a chorten. The ashes of a high lama will often be mixed with clay and formed into a miniature chorten only a few inches high. This will be placed in another chorten, which may be a highly decorated and bejeweled chorten located inside a gompa, or plain chorten like so many which dot the Ladakhi landscape.
Children below the age of seven or eight are never cremated. Instead, a lama will decide the most auspicious method to use in disposing of the body. The various methods include embalming the body and leaving it on a mountainside, placing it in a river or embalming and burial.