I am giving a talk on Kwan Yin in a couple of weeks, and I really want to convey a sense of how important and ubiquitous her image is in popular Buddhist culture. I am trying to capture as much as possible the presence of Kwan Yin in everyday lives - I want to photograph shrines to Kwan Yin in people's houses and gardens. I am also hunting down ways in which her image is used commercially, and here is an incense wrapper from Vietnam that I've just scanned.
I use a lot of incense - I'm constantly praying, and my house has a constant smell about it of sandalwood. Mostly I buy it from the Vietnamese grocery store in Cabramatta called Dong Khanh - it has the biggest range of Buddhist devotional products that I know of. Well, perhaps Leung Wai Kee in Chinatown has more, but they are much more expensive, and their range of incense more limited.
Occasionally I will also stock up at Indian grocery stores - my favourite is in Wentworthville. Normally I favour the Satya Sai incense there, and the various types of Nag Champa and fluxo incense. I also buy Himani Gold Turmeric Cream - my all-time favourite cosmetic.
If I'm feeling particularly holy I'll buy expensive incense from work, but I only ever burn one stick at a time (at those prices!).
I love receiving incense as a gift, though a friend from Hong Kong told me it is immensely inauspicious to receive it - incense being used to memorialise the dead.
I know a lot of people complain about incense and its smell, claiming to react badly to it. Such people invariably bore me.


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