China A to Z: I is for Incense


Used for worship

All the temples I saw had incense available, no matter what type they were. The two most common offerings twere food and incense.

In the Lama Temple in Beijing the price of admission includes one box of incense. I didn’t know it when I started out but you are supposed to light three sticks in various places. I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know: I lit all my sticks at once following the example of a few people.

Incense isn’t tobacco, but…

I was shocked one time riding the train, to see a man take out a short stick of incense Holding it with tweezers he lit it and sniffed it. Perhaps it calmed him.

It never would have occurred to me to bring incense along as a comfort item on a train trip.

While I am guessing that strictly speaking it wasn’t against the rules, the announcements on the train about smoking sounded dire and the train was equipped with smoke detectors that would stop the train (at least so they said). The threats sounded pretty hard core so I was surprised that nothing happened, not even one of the conductors telling him to put it away.

I guess it isn’t surprising that in a country with many less than savory aromas incense can help one stay focused on the task at hand not wondering what caused a particular tingle in the nostrils. Can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t make a significant contribution to air pollution locally, and I doubt that it’s good for respiratory challenges. But then I’ve never liked incense.


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