Wondering Why?

Why do Buddhists burn incense?

Incense is widely used by various religious groups in many parts of the world but more predominantly in Asian countries.  In the case of Buddhism, as with other denominations and religious sectors, incense burning is part of the tradition of prayer.  Whenever there is praying involved, whether private or public, many Buddhists and other people would always burn incense.  For most Buddhists, the burning of incense is similar to the lighting of candles in many Western cultures when engaging in prayer.  In this particular activity, the burning of incense is done as a symbol or representation of the connection between people and a higher being.  A prayer or religious ceremony for Buddhists wouldn’t be complete without burning incense.

Aside from tradition in prayer, Buddhists also burn incense as a way of cleansing the air to get rid of negative vibes and energy.  The smell and smoke from incense is said to help purify the air in a particular space or room.  With this belief, many Buddhists also do prayer rituals wherein they go to different areas in a room or space to ensure that the whole room receives purification.  It is also common for Buddhist families to burn incense in all parts of their homes to get rid of negative energy and make their homes clean and purified.  Rooms that are purified by burning incense are said to be free from evil spirits.

There are also cases wherein the incense burning by Buddhists is done to call out gods and Buddhas.  This activity is typically done along with some prayer rituals and the burning incense is considered a way to reach out to the supreme beings of the universe.  For many Buddhists, incense burning is a form of prayerful communication with different buddhas and supreme beings.  There are even some people who are said to be able to communicate with so-called demons through burning some incense during prayer.

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