Referring to incense, we are immediately reminded of the red-yellow hue that has been characteristic of its body and foot for thousands of years. However, as life develops further, not only is traditional culture preserved but also a variety of other colors have now started appearing in the incense market, depending on the characteristics of each type of incense and customer needs. So what does each color have symbolic meaning?
The yellow incense symbolizes the sun and light, bringing many positive aspects to the home. According to Buddhism, yellow is often associated with love, wisdom, and escapism; this explains why traditional incenses from Southeast Asian countries are usually predominantly yellow in color.
Yellow has long been considered a deep and meaningful color by both Vietnam and China due to its strong presence passed down through generations. Not only does it represent the rays of the sun with its vibrant hue, but it also symbolizes good luck and warmth. For these reasons, yellow incense sticks have become associated with thanksgiving ceremonies that demonstrate gratitude towards gods and those who have passed away.
In China, according to tradition, when worshiping Buddha to dispel calamities, collect souls, awaken souls to fast, and pray to gods, they use yellow incense.
The yellow hue of incense is partially attributed to the raw materials used for its production, such as herbs, adhesive powder, and essential oils. The most commonly used binders are joss powder, which provides the incense sticks with their distinctive yellow color.
Toothpicks are crafted from chopped bamboo stalks, which are then dyed in the traditional rose red hue, signifying luck, warmth, family love, and reverence for the spiritual world.
In an increasingly modernized society, people have different spiritual requirements and intentions, meaning that incense must also vary in color and aroma to meet customers' needs. Aside from traditional yellow incense, you can now find varieties of other colors like red, blue, or black…
Red incense is usually made from ingredients such as dragon blood, rose and red sandalwood, etc. Red symbolizes vitality because it is the same color as the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. This makes red incense a popular choice for burning in the morning, infusing new energy for the day.
During emergencies or when praying to the gods, many people choose red incense for its immediate meaning.
Red is associated with love and is used on Valentine's Day, or to create a romantic atmosphere filled with emotions for couples in love. In the wedding ceremony of the Vietnamese, Chinese, and Indians, they often use red incense to burn because they believe that red brings luck to the bride and groom. They also often burn red incense to pray for fortune and luck in business.
Green is considered a color that is close to nature, it is a symbol of peace and relaxation. Green incense is often used in meditation sessions, yoga, or burned in offices and companies to create comfort and it is rarely used in rituals.
My grandmother is a Vietnamese, according to her story, the rituals of worshiping the dead, awakening the soul, and calling the spirits of the dead will use black incense, symbolizing the gloom. Even witches prefer using this type of incense for certain rituals. Black incense is not recommended on festive occasions or weddings. Therefore, it is advisable to choose incense of different colors for different occasions and times.
Each color of incense has its own meaning, using the right type of incense for each occasion is a good thing to do. However, different cultures will perceive the meaning of incense color differently. Therefore, there is also an opinion that the color of the incense is not important, as long as the incense does not contain coloring chemicals that are dangerous to health. And as long as you are sincere and respectful when burning incense to perform prayer rituals, it is okay.
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