Censer (Dhoopakutti)

Published by Jacob P Varghese on

The Censer is a highly symbolic object used for burning incense. Traditionally the censer symbolizes the Universe. The bowl or receptacle of the censer symbolizes the earth, and the lid symbolizes heaven.

The four chains represent the Four Corners of the earth. It also represents for Holy Trinity. The first chain stands for God, the Father, the second and the third for the God the Son, (the divine and human form) and the fourth chain represents the Holy Spirit. The conjoining chain on the circular disc at the top with the hook represents the unity in Trinity. Each link in the chain represents a generation.

The twelve tinklets stands for the 12 apostles and the sound of the tinklets reminds us if the apostolic voice ringing in the Church. Each chain is made of 72 links representing the 72 apostles, Jesus Christ sent out (Lk. 10: 1). The black coal stands for sinners and fire represents Holy Spirit. Just as the coal glows and shines with fire, similarly in the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, the sinner is transformed. There is another interpretation that the censer is the Blessed Virgin Mother, the Holy Theotokos and the fire is the blessed divine child.

Incense is a mix of spices and gums that we burn during services to produce fragrant smoke. The incense is the life and prayers of believers, rising as sweet fragrances in the presence of God. It also shows the grace of the Holy Trinity Just as the sweet-smelling incense-smoke rises up, so our prayers and praises rise towards heaven (Ps. 141: 2). The Lord had commanded Aaron, through Moses “And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the veil” (Leviticus 16:12).

The offering of the incense is sweet smelling sacrifice and acceptable to God (Ex. 31: 9; Num. 16: 6). It reminds us of the Lord’s sacrifice, which is a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5: 2). It also represents the prayers of the community of saints, who are always present with us (Rev. 5: 8; 8: 4). When the censer is waved at us, we bow down our heads and make the sign of cross to show veneration. This is because, Christ dwells in us, all believers proclaim that we are partakers of His divine body. When we bow and make the sign of cross, we are to remember all these events and pledge to sacrifice our lives, for Christ.


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