Types of Incense
Ingredients of Incense
Since Vedic times, fragrance has always been a dominant factor in Hindu religious rituals. There are thousands of incenses made in India, which are available in all shapes and sizes. There are cone shaped incenses, gummy log types, powders, raw woods, resins, wood chips, pastes, and even liquids or oils.
Ingredients of incense can be classified into the following categories on the basis of five elements and their Ayurvedic relationship to plants. The relationship is shown below :
- Earth (Roots) : Turmeric, Ginger, Costus Root, Valerian, Spikenard etc.
- Fire (flower) : Clove
- Air (leaves) : Patchouli
- Ether (Fruits) : Star Anise
- Water (Stems and Branches) : Sandalwood, Aloeswood, Cedarwood, Cassia, Myrrh, Borneol etc.
Incense General Information
Dhoop is a special kind of incense which is burned in temples or a worship room. The ingredients of incense are made into a paste or dough and formed into rolls, also called "pastels" or "logs" without a stick. Sometimes the dhoop is hard and dried while at other times it is soft and malleable. This kind of incense is extremely fragrant. The term dhoop actually originates from the dhoop tree which is found in eastern India-whose chips give out a rich fragrance when burnt. But the popularly used dhoop is the black-colored putty which is essentially a mixture of ghee, herbs and wood chips. Dhoop, in effect, is a miniature form of havan.
The most popular style of incense in India is in stick form called "Agarbatti". In India, an incense stick is an integral part of every religion. Among the numerous varieties of incense sticks, there are many ancient formulations which which have passed down the skills of incense making for generations. In fact, incense sticks have become a part of our daily rituals. Incense smoke permeates almost every place of worship in the country or for that matter the whole world-crowded temples, places of Vedic fire worship, echoing churches, smoke-filled monasteries, mosques etc.
There are thousands of fragrances with which incense sticks are made and usually each fragrance has a specific effect. It is often recommended that jasmine or lavender fragrant incenses are the best for calming the mind and providing relief from stress. While this may be true in several cases, each individual has a unique mind-set. It is better to choose the fragrance that has a pleasing and peaceful effect upon you. Efforts to categorize fragrances of incenses to definite emotions are at best subjective.