Ganga-arathi, offering burning incenses to the holy Mother Ganges, spreading their fragrant smoke to atmosphere. A traditional Hindu rite (from trek-earth)
Whenever we pray, we lit incense sticks or put fragrant substance in hot burning charcoals. The sweet aroma spread everywhere when the smoke takes by wind. The whole atmosphere was purified. Then we weave the burning incense in front of Our Lord. Mentally we offered the essence of unlimited akasha, the fullness of the innermost chamber in the core of our heart for Him. “Such as unlimited ethereal space, may our heart fully sweetened by the fragrance of love and broad enough for You to take Your abode there. Take it as Your resting place full of pleasure.” We thought Our Lord will be happy as He smells this sweet aroma pleasing to mind. “As fragrant as this incense’s smoke our sweet prayer will attain Your Divine Lotus Feet and Your peerless qualities will spread and glorified everywhere”. Even the non-theistic Theravadi Buddhist offered Amisha-puja with sweet-meat, flowers, lamp (or candle), incense sticks, etc. When they lit the incense and the smoke begin to spread every where, they meditate and pray, “As the fragrance of this incense’s smoke, let the glorious fragrance of our revered Buddha, the master, and His teachings, the Dharma, will distribute to every corner of the world and bring happiness to all beings.”
A Buddhist offered incense sticks to Lord Buddha. (http://static.guim.co.uk)Burning incense and other fragrant substance in brazier has become inseparable part of our daily Hindu rites, as well as in many traditions of Indonesian ancient folk rituals. I have seen the Javanese burn incenses, offered some flowers (usually three kinds of them), cakes, fruits and water. Remembered me with the Gita’s patram, pushpam, phalam, toyam… They made simple ritual for ask permission before dig a well, put first stone of a building, enter a new house, commemorate the departure of their relatives, etc. Some who has converted to Islam, still practicing these rites with Arabic prayers cited from Koran. Even in highly Islamized folks such as the Banjars of South Kalimantan also follow the same rites. They were famous as very devout Muslims. But when there is important celebration, even the Islamic one such as welcoming a relative who just came from Hajj pilgrimage, they pray, burns incenses and prepare rice porridge with white and yellow colour. Today in spite they were not Indonesian Hindus, they still practice these customs as part of their tradition and culture. Nothing related to their new non Hindu faith, but it is about identity, heir, and pride of a civilized society with glorious history.
Royal house keepers of Javanese (Yogyakarta) Palace (abdi dalem) were preparing brazier for burning incenses. Even after they have embraced Islam.The beauty and highly refined manner of Indonesian folks, their tradition, culture, multitude of languages, customs were came from their true identity as a great nation. Hindu-Vedic and Vaishnavite tenets have been unified with the very life and soul of Indonesian culture. In spite of these cultures were developed from Vedic-dharma or they were actually original cultures of Indonesian with nothing to do with Vedic-dharma, but this is our true identity and culture. This is her original natural beauty. If once again we take this pure Vedic teachings, then nothing will lost, everything get enlivened, and the Indonesian will keep maintaining their original identity.
A Balinese lady are going to offer burning incense sticks and a tray full of offerings. (flickr-wayan)Here we are not only talk about fragrance smoke of burning incenses. This is all about protecting our own culture, the original identity of Indonesia. Some people begin to abandon and discard these practices by influence of non Vedic religious preaching. They said the smoke of incenses, fragrant flowers, and traditional offerings were eatable only for demons. This is Satanic, demon worship and has to thrown away. Of course by learning religion and lead a life according to its principles, we have to become better person by discard every bad things, even if it was part of our inherited culture. But any sane person can see there’s no harm at all in these traditional religious traditions. Why we have to abandon our precious wealth? Where will we take this wonderful heir of our ancestor if we take irrational custom of foreigners who have no respect to our own culture? If there is no more burning incenses, for me it is the beginning of our cultural lost and also spiritual lost.
A Hindu priest and temple's golden flag pole amidst incenses' smoke (worldaround)We have to take this Sanatana Dharma. For the Vaishnavas, the Vaishnavite tenets were the core of Sanatana Dharma. These sacred teachings of Vaishnavism were alive for centuries in Indonesia and certainly inspired her peoples’ spirituality. When we take shelter under our revered Sampradayam and Guru-paramparam, it is also our duty to revitalizing Veda-dharma and simultaneously also protecting the precious heritage of our Indonesian ancestors. They were the real protector of our Dharma in the past. Now it is our and our progeny’s turn to continuing their work for ever and ever. May the sweet fragrance of burning incenses, symbol of the very breath of our Dharma, is always purifying our atmosphere. May Suvarnabhumi Nusantara is forever strong to maintain her original mystical and charming real beauty.