Incense sticks or called the “joss sticks” are used in temples, in performing religious rites, or in ancestral veneration. Since we were little, we were given these joss sticks to talk to our grandparents and ancestors who have gone before us. We did not know what it means then but just followed suit. In time, it became tradition to light joss sticks and pray to them using that during special dates on the lunar calendar or during their memorial.
At the wake of my grandfather, elders reminded us to keep lighting joss sticks and that the process should not break. The incense should not run out.
The joss stick has been used as a clock in ancient times to determine the time of day. I remembered that my dad said a joss sticks last for an hour, though new ones seem to burn faster. However, it can still be used as a gauge for how long has passed, half of the stick means half an hour.