Dhoop ~ The Incense of India


India has a very long tradition of making incense in so many scents not available anywhere in other parts of the world. The creation of these aromatic sticks was originally used to mask a variety of unpleasant odors. It then made a transition to becoming sacred when people became more aware of the benefits of burning incense.

The Dhoop incense is the most well known and most commonly burned incense in India. As a masala type incense, it is made up of dry ingredients that create a spicy mixture. It contains no liquid scents but relies on the blending of several solid scented ingredients and a moist binder. Different types of Dhoop will have a large concentration of a particular fragrance added to it to fit a particular purpose.

Even though Dhoop is a blend of different scents, its main source comes from the “dhoop tree” (Ailanthus malabaricum) that grow in India. The tree that creates this scent is also known as Dhoop. In earlier times, the people of India realized that the chips of this particular tree emitted a very pleasant aroma when it was burned. They took the chips of this tree and added ghee and special herbs to help purify the atmosphere, especially during religious ceremonies.

The most common type of Dhoop available is the Chandan Dhoop. It is predominantly made up of sandalwood. Ghee and other herbs are added to turn the dry blend material into either a stick or a log. It usually takes on the appearance of a dark putty color once it has been prepared.

The use of sandalwood in Dhoop is extremely significant. It does have a very pleasant and desirable aromatic aroma but the use of sandalwood is celebrated more for its benefits. As alternative medicine, it has been used to heal several ailments of the skin like rashes, bug bites and eczema. It is also useful in its ability to ease anxiety.

Other types of Dhoop will use other bases instead of sandalwood. Some varieties of the incense have a large concentration of cinnamon, cassia, or styrax. The uses of cinnamon works best as an insect repellent and may have antiviral therapeutic effects. The use of styraz (bezoin) in Dhoop has also been a favorite to many.

For mediation purposes, Dhoop is used to bring people closer to the divine spirit. It is used commonly in monasteries and even spiritual retreats to help people relax and become more intuitive. Some people also used the incense during rituals which involve making sacrifices and sacraments.

Dhoop is not as widely known as other popular scents of incense but it is still highly treasured in India. Other countries like China and Japan still use Dhoop in several forms of ceremonies. It is mostly used in tea and religious ceremonies. In the western world, Dhoop may be found in yoga schools or meditative retreats. The most practical use of the incense has been limited to the use of removing foul odors in the air thus a very large verity of extremely pleasant and more nontraditional fragrances are available.

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