Friday, April 24, 2009

Chua Ong- an incense coil special

pagoda-hopping in Vietnam part 3

This is the incense special.

dancing coils
Incense are mainly used in Buddhist temples for spiritual purification and blessing, not to mention for aromatic and aesthetic reasons.

Ever since I’ve been coming to Vietnam, I’ve always fancied going to a Buddhist temple and shooting the incense coils which so fascinated me. They are not available in the Philippines and I’m not sure if they are in Indonesia, at least not in the size and form that are common in Vietnam.

Chua Ong coils 3
Incense coils or spirals are made by extruding the incense mixture into a coil without a core.

Chua Ong offering
Spiral incense, depending on the size, can burn for several hours and even for days

So lo and behold, in my third (or is it my fourth?) business trip to Vietnam, I took the time to pagoda-hop in old Chinatown. I probably visited about four and it’s in the third temple, the Chua Ong, that I saw them in a beautifully lit array.

Chua Ong central temple
These incense coils are a type of direct burning incense, where the scents are released by lighting the actual incense.

Chua Ong hearth
Probably the most common scent of incense is sandalwood.

So here’s my tribute to those coils. Finally, I got them good.

Chua Ong coils 1
In a study in Hong Kong, incense burning, contrary to popular belief, did not increase the risk of lung cancer among non-smokers and surprisingly reduced the risk among smokers.

Chua Ong coils 2
It is possible people who regularly burn incense also engage in healthier dietary lifestyle, like eating more fresh fish and less alcohol.

For more of my pagoda-hop series in Vietnam, visit:
part 1: Thien Hau
part 2:Tam Son Hoi Quan
part 3:Chua Ong

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