Incense Sticks

The red/brownish pot with incense sticks
The red/brownish pot with incense sticks

If you ever enter a Buddhist temple, you would notice a specific smokey smell that permeates the air. A scent that tingles your nostrils but also relieves stress. This smokey fragrance comes from the burning of the incense sticks. In Buddhist culture, incense sticks are burned as a purifier to cleanse the air of all the impurities for spiritual prayers. Sitting in the middle of the shelf in my living room is a small red and goldish pot. This little pot is used to hold the incense sticks during its burning. My family and I migrated from southern China to America when I was at the age of 5. With us, we brought our Buddhist culture and possessions. Usually, my family would burn incense sticks annually for prayers to our ancestors and Buddhist deities. However, when I was around the age of 8, I was suddenly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis on my left knee. Every time I tried to walk, I would feel an excruciating pain up my leg like I’ve been pricked with a thousand needles. I was required to visit the Boston Children Hospital every weekend for checkups and blood tests. During those stressful times, I would encounter my parents praying to god with the incense sticks every morning, wishing for my recovery. Luckily, I was healed a couple of months later. My parents finally felt relieved after months of praying and seeking for help and went back to praying annually, at both the Buddhist temples and at home. To this day, every time I see the incense sticks, I would remember the times when my parents prayed their hearts out every morning, pleading for my recovery. 

Place(s): Massachusetts
Year: 2009

– V

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child