Evening Prayer - Devotional Incense
This incense is a poem to the creation of sacred space through scent and ritual and the exquisite feelings and memories the practice can create. A practice that, in Hindu temples, has been perfected over thousands of years, where every action has meaning and effects in both in the physical and spiritual worlds.
Ingredients: organic ghee, Indian sandalwood, rose floral wax, Borneol camphor flakes and organic honey-powdered with camphor wood
Packed in Garland Marigolds petals
The fragrance of this incense is a heartbalm for my friends from India. They find it emotionally moving in the extreme. It's fragrant tendrils evoke memories and states of being unique to the temple culture of India. It is the fragrance of the evening "puja" in the temple. The word puja is derived from the Dravidian language "pu" meaning "flower". In its simplest form, puja, is the making of an offering of flowers to an image of a god. Puja can vary according to place, time of day, sect, occasion and god honored. It is the evening puja that evokes the most powerful scent memories
The day at Hindu temples starts with using highly fragrant rose water for the ritualistic washing off of the dried, sandalwood paste that covers the idols of the gods. The gods, as if starting the day in meditation, are all sitting in the lotus position. As the rose water slakes off the sandalwood, the scented water is sluiced through a gutter carved in the statue's pedestal into a copper pot. This water is considered very precious. A priest collects the water and it will later be offered to devotees as they enter the temple. As soon as the idols are washed one of the priests performs morning puja and the sanctuary is ready for the general public.
At the same time that the idols are being washed, other priests start to make sandalwood paste by rubbing small logs of sandalwood against a circular grinding stone along with a few strands of saffron that works synergistically to make the smell of the sandalwood stronger. The priest puts a few drops of rose water over the grinding stone and rolls/rubs the sandalwood in a circular motion over the stone. The heat of the friction releases puffs of buttery sandalwood fragrance into the air The priests continue rubbing and adding water until a paste develops. This paste is put into small containers for the devotees alongside the already collected rosewater.
By early morning, the entrance to the temple is already perfumed with sandalwood and rose petals. As the faithful arrive for morning puja, they dip their fingers in the vessels filled with rosewater and anoint their eyelids and crown chakra. Next, they take some of the fragrant sandalwood paste with their finger and dot their forehead to activate their third eye before entering the temple sanctuary. Inside, the worshippers rub the idols with sandalwood, drape the statues with flower garlands, offer flowers and food. Before they leave, the devotees can light a special five or nine light ghee lamp called an "aarti" lamp. Chanting fills the air as the lamp is circled in front of the god, three or more times, in a clockwise direction. The sweet, buttery scent of ghee mingles with the rose and sandalwood filling the air and binds the fragrances together in a scared perfume. After performing the lamp ritual, pure white, crystallized, camphor flakes are placed on special, small pedestals on the aarti lamp and lit on fire. The sharp, sparkling scent of camphor lightens and invigorates the heavily scented air. * The ghee lamp is a symbol of moving from spiritual darkness into the light. The ghee itself symbolizes negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, our negative tendencies burn away and finally, our ego perishes too. The flame of the lamp burns upward and towards higher ideals. Ghee is made from clarified butter and has a very different fragrance from an oil lamp. It is believed that Ghee has a significantly higher ability to attract soul energy while oil lamps activate mind energy while camphor destroys all kinds of evil energies and enhances the flow of positive vibrations in a space.
By noon the priests stop making sandalwood paste. The afternoon heat descends on the temple and as the sun travels across the sky the air becomes more and more intoxicating as worshippers come and go. The scent of sandalwood is cooling which helps the devotees and priests manage in the intense heat.
As evening approaches and the sun colors the sky with purple and yellow fingers of light, the priests take away the wilted flowers but leave the sandalwood paste stuck to the idols. They light more ghee lamps to illuminate the temple as the darkness descends. The light shines through the decorative lattices of the small windows of the sanctuary and creates enchanting patterns on the temple walls and grounds. Inside the idols faces are lit by subtly placed lamps that make their faces come alive in the flickering, yellow light. Worship is different in the evening because the idols are treated as if they are alive so they need to relax and get ready to sleep. Only flowers are offered to the idols in the evening, no sandalwood paste. Although, on special holidays with night time festivities, an idol can be covered with moist sandalwood paste in the early evening to which flowers and glittering objects are stuck. This practice is called "aangi" or dressing the idol.
But, for the most part, worship in the evening is quieter. Only the Aarti lamp ceremony is performed and as the night goes on the temple chamber becomes more and more lit with small, dancing, ghee lights. The smell of flowers, particularly roses, infuses the air and mingle with the scent of the ever-present sandalwood and camphor as well as the perfumes of frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, and agarwood as incense sticks are lit for the evening in a special container. Around ten o'clock the gods are left to go to sleep floating on a bed of fragrance. Outside the temple grounds, it is easy to know who has performed evening puja because their clothes and hair are permeated with the smells of the temple that waft around them for the rest of the evening.
A hug reveals all...
*you can find Camphor for performing Aarti here at Mermade, with full instructions
The Mandala used on this container is for Bhuvaneshwari
One of the Mahavidyas, the Hindu Wisdom Goddesses
"She is the Divine Mother who protects the worlds and consequently the whole universe is Her body on which the numerous beings that exist are like jewels adorning her."
12 pellets packed in Marigold Petals in a metal tin