By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 30 November, 2011
Dear Spiritual Explorer: Can you explain to me the difference between dhoop and incense? My friend tells me that if you really want to do spiritual ceremonies, you must burn dhoop. I tell him that it doesn’t matter. Ronald S., Eastchester NY
Sandalwood Incense Cones
Dear Ronald: On its face, the difference between incense and dhoop is that dhoop is not wrapped around an incense stick. As to whether incense or dhoop are more likely to be part of deeper, spiritual ceremonies because of their form or function, this can be debated. On a personal level, however, I have a definite preference when I choose the incense cones otherwise known as dhoop. And that preference is the Sandalwood Incense Cones. As the incense cones or dhoop burns, they give off a fragrance and aromatic smoke that is quiet captivating and alluring to me. As the scent enters my nostrils, I am truly enveloped in the smoke; I have to admit it feels very ritualistic, unlike what I experience when I ignite sandalwood incense sticks.
In my investigation on your behalf, I have come across some interesting facts regarding incense and dhoop. For instance, did you know that incense is a very important part of Ayurvedic healing? Simply stated, Ayurvedic healing, though thousands of years old and very venerated in India, is a composite of many types of healing modalities. Under the Ayurvedic umbrella is a philosophy that one must take into account all aspects of a human being, dealing with their spiritual, physical and mental choices. Ayurveda actually pre-dates what we as westerners call holistic healing which again deals with spiritual, mental and physical causations. While Ayurveda might prescribe different pills or powders or suggest a different form of body healing based on certain constitutionalities, holistic healing also deals with the total person with their prescriptions.
It was interesting to also find out that just as Ayurvedic food choices include many flavors, tastes and spices, so too they also include the five elements of ether, air, fire, earth and water. For instance, star anise reflects the element of ether, sandalwood and frankincense are water, and the earth elements include turmeric, vetiver, ginger and valerian. Clove enhances and supports fire. Therefore, if one were deficient in the earth element, it would be helpful to perhaps include turmeric in one’s diet.
Indian incense can be divided into two categories: masala and charcoal. Masala incenses are made of dry ingredients, while charcoal incenses contain liquid scents. Masala incenses are made by blending several solid scented ingredients into paste and then rolling that taste onto a bamboo core stock. Dhoop incense is a masala sub-group. It lacks a core bamboo stick. While regular incense sticks express their incense in perhaps a graceful, upward flowing movement, dhoop incense is more likely to smolder and foster a very concentrated scent.
Again, it becomes a matter of preference. Try both and see which one you prefer. Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer
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