What is Incense?

The word incense is familiar in a religious ceremony all over the world especially in Asian countries. The smoke of burning incense is the symbol of the faithful prayer rising in heaven. Have you notice that in religious matrimony, it is done in groups of three swings on incense to represent the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Other religious ritual was developed in China which then transmitted to Korea, Japan, and Philippines. This incense has an invaluable role in the Buddhist ceremonies and rites as well as the Taoist of China and Shinto shrines of Japanese. It is done as reputation to purifying surroundings to the Buddha’s assembly, bodhisattvas, gods, demons, and others.

The inner spaces in the Chinese Temples as well as the Buddhist temples are scented with thick coiled incense hung from the ceiling and on special stands.

The incense sticks in several temples differ from each other.

But what is incense and why it is used in religious ceremonies and rituals?

Incense is composed of aromatic materials from plants with the combination of some essential oils. This refers to the substance rather than the release fragrant smoke when it is burned. Changes in the composition are made due to culture and tradition and the technology advancement may diversify the way it burns.

Actually incense is used because it creates spiritual atmosphere to mask unpleasant odors. What is emphasize there, is the surroundings can be considered that the presence of spirit in their worship and rituals can add faith to believer which can be acceptable to what they considered god.

With the use of incense particularly the smoke and fragrance produce can aid in prayer. That believer feels that their worship is sacred and holy.


But you know the word “incense” originated from the Latin word “incendere” which means to burn. The composition is of gum resins from aromatic trees which are imported from the Arabian and Somali coats.

Burning of incense can be done in two ways. It can be burned by indirect burning or direct burning. Incense of indirect burning cannot be burned by itself but rather requires a separate source. This kind of incense is non-combustible such as resin incense. The direct burning incense can be burned directly by a flame that leaves a glowing ember and releases fragrance. Incense sticks can be burned directly.

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