Make your New Year prosperous with these 3 simple steps that are sure to impress your ancestors.

Cleaning and organizing the ancestral altar, trimming incense sticks, and setting up for the upcoming Lunar New Year festivities and family reunion.


What is the significance of altar covers?

The practice of using altar covers at the end of the year is very important and necessary in every home – especially when Tet comes and the spring arrives to connect the descendants with the spiritual world, with ancestors to show respect and welcome a new year full of health, luck, wealth, career success… and prosperity.

According to Vietnamese customs, the altar, incense burner is a place to burn incense for worshiping Buddha, deities, and ancestors… Therefore, the altar needs to be tidy and clean to maintain purity and solemnity. The practice of using altar covers and trimming incense is essential.

According to the belief in feng shui, the altar is where the energy of the whole family gathers, influencing all aspects of the lives of the homeowner and family members. If the incense burner is too full, it will hinder the flow of energy and greatly affect the fortune of the homeowner – so trimming incense is necessary to make the altar bright and clean.

In terms of aesthetics, an incense burner with too many incense sticks makes the altar messy and creates a cluttered feeling. The large quantity of incense sticks makes it difficult to burn incense and the fallen ash can cause incense burners to catch fire.

The belief is that having a full incense burner is considered beautiful and brings wealth, but it is difficult to burn incense, and it can also affect the connection with the spiritual world. Regardless of the beliefs, covering the altar and trimming incense are very important at the end of the year.

3 steps to cover the altar to attract wealth

Covering the altar is very important, following the standard process to receive more luck and blessings:

1. Tools specifically for covering the altar

– The homeowner should prepare a new cloth specifically for covering the altar.
– Next is to prepare five types of incense and ginger (or essential oils) to blend with clean water for cleaning and covering the altar.
– Prepare broom, cleaning paper, small basin – all must be clean and new for covering.

According to Master Phung Phuong, to save time and effort in preparation, you can purchase a set of altar covers (including 3 items: fragrant cover water, altar cover cloth, and cleansing powder).

The cleansing powder is made from 108 types of precious herbs from regions with gathered spiritual energy.

It is recommended to buy altar cover sets at reputable addresses that sell feng shui items and worship items to ensure the quality of the products.

2. Perform rituals, light incense to ask for permission

Before carrying out the covering and trimming of incense, the homeowner offers a small ritual tray and lights incense, recites the worshiping prayer to ask for permission to cover the altar.

The quantity of ritual offerings is not important, but it must be sincere and express gratitude.

3. Perform cleaning, covering

Start covering the altar from top to bottom, clean gently to avoid scratches and color fading. Avoid moving statues and incense burners.

If there is too much ash in the incense burner, reduce it with a clean spoon, then use a clean or wet cloth to clean the altar.

After cleaning the worship space, finish covering, the homeowner arranges the items, worship items back to their original positions. If there are containers of rice, salt… replace them with new ones. After finishing, make a plea to invite the deities, ancestors to return and report that the covering of the altar is completed.

How many incense sticks are left after trimming according to Vietnamese customs?

According to the beliefs of the past, to start trimming incense, the homeowner needs to prepare offerings and light incense to report and ask permission from deities, ancestors, and predecessors to start cleaning. After the ritual, the homeowner will proceed to trim the incense until there are a certain number of remaining incense sticks.

Usually, when trimming incense, there will be 3, 5, 7, or 9 incense sticks left in the incense burner, and the rest will be transformed into ash and poured into the ground or buried in the tree roots.

One note to pay attention to when trimming and transforming incense sticks is not to throw them in the trash or in dirty places.

To avoid any mistakes, the homeowner should clean after the prayers are finished. During the cleaning process, use a new, clean cloth, a new broom, and prepare clean water and a clean cloth…

Some notes when performing the trimming and covering of incense

During the process of covering the altar and trimming incense, the homeowner should place the incense burner in a clean place without impurities. Especially when rearranging the altar, the homeowner must perform the ritual bow, ask for permission, and only move essential worship items, never shift the incense burner and the offerings.

During the cleaning process, hold the incense burner with your hand so that it doesn’t rotate, then use fragrant water to clean the incense burner. Note that this view is only true for a few areas because some places still move the incense burner for normal cleaning.

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