Sandalwood paste is used in Hindu rituals and ceremonies to mark religious utensils, decorate icons of deities, and applied by devotees to the forehead or the neck and chest.
Sandalwood is the name of a class of woods from trees in the genus Santalum. The woods are heavy, yellow, and fine-grained, and unlike many other aromatic woods, they retain their fragrance for decades. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the woods for use. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Consequently, species of this slow-growing trees have suffered over-harvesting in the past century.
Sandalwood paste is integral to rituals and ceremonies, to mark religious utensils, and to decorate the icons of the deities. It is also distributed to devotees, who apply it to their foreheads or the necks and chests.Preparation of the paste is a duty fit only for the pure, so is entrusted in temples and during ceremonies only to priests.