Incense Sticks x Rose Bazaar
Agarbathi Making in Bengaluru
The incense sticks or "agarbathis" in our box are hand rolled by women who have been engaged in the craft for decades. Each agarbathi is made with natural ingredients: essential oils, jaggery, wood dust and sun dried to allow the mixture to set. Unlike machine made agarbathis, these sticks are imbued with the scent instead of being coated in artificial scents after machine-rolling.
This industry propped up next to the iconic Binny Mills Factory in Bengaluru, which for centuries provided livelihood to hundreds. In the early days, when men were employed in Binny Mills, women took up the work of agarbathi making to earn extra income. They would arrive every morning to pick up the pre-colored sticks and take them to their workshops. In each workshop, small groups of women would then get to work: rolling the stick in with a black mixture of oils, jaggery and scents as the wood dust fell from the top of the table to cover the stick. Then they would set out their days work to dry in the sun: back in the day, the entire street would be coloured by agarbathis set out to dry for the day.
Agarbathis add an important ritual to daily prayer by enveloping the person in a calming aroma that attunes the senses to the present moment. It allows one to release the stress and worries of the day behind and focus on the act of mindful prayer.
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