Why Agarbathi is an inherent part of our Indian Traditions, Rituals and Culture
India is a country where a wide range of cultures, traditions, colours, and scents co-exist. The custom of burning incense sticks is a commonality among them all. It is a collectively popular practice among all religions and a long-standing custom since the Vedic times. Interestingly, Agarbathi finds a mention in two of the earliest Vedas, the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda, which only emphasises India’s deep-rooted relationship with agarbathis. In fact, over the years, the fragrance of agarbathis has subconsciously come to be associated with the Indian culture itself, especially amongst the westerners.
In India, burning incense has been a tradition across generations, age-groups and social brackets. It has become a daily ritual in practically every household due to varied reasons. The origins of this practice may also be traced back to our inclination towards spirituality and culture, and agarbathi playing a key role in both. Here, agarbathi is more than a product; they are representative of a culture steeped in the Vedas and the Hindu philosophy. As a country, we share the purity and aroma of incense sticks with people all around the world as a tribute to our culture. As a result, India is not only one of the largest consumers of agarbathi but also one of its largest producers worldwide, given that it is meeting the growing demand for incense sticks both locally and internationally.
According to the Vedic writings, burning incense sticks is one of the basic premises for certain belief systems and rituals. Since ancient times, agarbathi were burned during religious or ceremonial rituals, to bring one’s mind to focus. The natural aromas of incense are also said to help improve one’s emotional state and induce calm and relaxation.
Even Ayurveda recognises the benefits of agarbathi when it comes to our physical and emotional well-being. This explains why incense is used as a source of fire alongside the other elements (water, earth, air, and space) by many individuals, during meditation. It is also commonly believed that using agarbathi can help further deepen one’s practice.
Furthermore, agarbathi continues to be a sacred element in various puja rituals across occasions such as festivities, starting of a new endeavour or even to honour a special occasion/event. One of the fundamental reasons for this is the belief that these fragrances possess the ability to bring the devotees closer to God, thus amplifying the purity and sanctity of worship.