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If you do not light a lamp while doing a prayer and reciting any mantras. But it is necessary to burn an incense stick. This is practised by Buddhist too. Why do we need to do so?

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3 Answers 3

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It is not completely necessary to burn incense sticks while praying. It has just become a traditionally followed practice. What is necessary is to create an environment of sweet fragrance and aroma made out of pure material (like natural products). Because that purifies the air and it helps higher beings and ethereal beings to roam there if you are calling them. It is because prāna (life air) is the food for all beings starting from animals to gods:

prāṇaṃ devā anu prāṇanti manuṣyāḥ paśavaśca ye prāṇo hi bhūtānāmāyuḥ tasmātsarvāyuṣamucyate [Tait Up - 2.3]

Meaning
The gods live on breath, also men and animals. Prāna certainly is the life of all beings. Therefore prāna is called life of all.

As prāṇa acts as the food for the jivātmā, using incense sticks, dhupa, etc. through the aromatic air food is offered to them in various worships, puja and rituals. So it's not completely necessary to burn incense sticks while praying unless some god or higher being is going to come there in a subtle form. But anyway, burning incense stick is a good practice as it will at the least make the place of worship pleasant.

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Fragrance is what is important here you mean. So instead of incense stick, we may spray room freshners too just before the prayer.. –  pritywiz Jul 1 at 12:33
    
@pritywiz, you should say that in 1000 CE. –  Vineet Menon Jul 1 at 12:36
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@pritywiz haha yes, if that pleases you. But if you are doing it for gods or higher beings then no you can't. It's because gods are svatic (pure) in nature and they like things that are completely pure. But artificial things like freshners, even incense sticks, contain impurity. So in worships fire and fragrance made of natural products is used. –  jabahar Jul 1 at 12:38
    
Thank you for this precise answer, my motive was to get this part.. fragrance made of natural products. So we can say that raw products are purer than products made out of them to make it more finer. –  pritywiz Jul 1 at 12:40
    
@pritywiz btw, its my puja time :) so if you want any more clarification I'll be online after 30 mins. or so. –  jabahar Jul 1 at 12:40

Usually,sandhyapuja is done at 'twilight' or 'trisandhya'. That is the time when many insects and mosquitoes are present. Along with the aroma , as the other user mentioned, the dhoop/ incense stick also gets rid of the insects and mosquitoes.

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+1 for explaining the science behind the practice! –  pbvamsi Sep 13 at 13:05

As far as I know incense stick stands for the principle of smell which is associated with Prithvi (earth) lodged in Muldahar Chakra. One thanks the Deity in Arati for the Pancha Bhutas (Earth, Water, fire, air and space) which makes life possible.

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