Exotic, sacred and laden with symbolic significance, incense seems to billow everywhere when traveling in Asia, whether it’s the streets of Bangkok and Mumbai or the temples of Rangoon, Kyoto and Java.

Burning incense has ancient roots in Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto and Taoism and has long been used in rituals across Asia. Rows of incense coils often hang from the ceiling in temples throughout China such as at the Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong, while it’s commonly placed in censers near the entrance of temples in Japan, like at Tokyo’s renowned Sensoji Temple. Though many types of incense and ways of using it have evolved over time, its powerful symbolism and significance have endured.

asia3Purification
Typically composed of aromatic elements from herbs, flowers and other natural sources, the burning of incense is thought to not only symbolize the shedding of negative qualities to reveal the purity within, but the aroma itself is believed to purify the atmosphere and inspire the development of a pure mind. In Hinduism, the smoke that rises from the incense represents the clouded consciousness, thus the dissipation evokes the spiritual cleansing of the mind.

Devotion & Spiritual Offering
In Buddhism, burning incense is considered a sacred
offering and a way to honor Buddha. The act creates positive energy and a serene environment ideal for devotion, while also serving as a reminder that true virtue spreads in all directions. In Taoism and Hinduism, the rising smoke is thought to represent prayers rising up to the gods.

Healing
Many types of incense such as sandalwood and frankincense give off scents that are soothing and create calming environments. Those practicing meditation often find it encourages a serene state of mind – one thought to be spiritually healing. Incense burning is also believed to help reduce stress and tension.

Experience the mystique and ancient traditions of Asia on an unforgettable voyage in 2016.