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The Kathina Robe offering Day

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

The word Kathina is a Pali word in origin, it refers to a wooden frame which was used for the purpose of sewing robes together. Once the season for making robe is over, the component parts of the frame will be kept for next year.

It is also defined as 'difficult'. The more general meaning of Kathina would normally refers to the actual robes 'civara', which are carefully prepared and presented to the community of the Monks who have fulfilled the requirements during the rains retreat.

A Kathina Robe can be either one of these three pieces: the Outer Robe, 'Civara'; the Shoulder Robe, 'Sanghati'; and the Sarong like garment, 'Antaravasaka', or 'Sabong' in the Thai language or a set of these. This ceremony is an absolute necessity in the monastic code as it provides monks with provisions such as robes and requisites for the whole year. It is supported by generous devotees.

According to Theravada Buddhist practice, the event - the Kathina Robe and the celebration of the Kathina offering day, is one of the most sacred ceremonies in Buddhist practice. In Buddhist countries like Thailand; Sri Lanka; and Myanmar, devotees may have to wait for years to have the occasion to perform such an offering as presenting the Kathina Robe to the Sangha. Sometimes in Thailand, they must wait over 20 years. There are, nevertheless, communal Kathina offerings ceremonies, in which several people can act as a sponsor for the ceremony. Besides offering the main Kathina Robe, an individual or family can also offer other useful necessities or 'requisites' to support the temple and the Sangha. In this way, all the lay people, apart from main sponsor for the Kathina robe, have an opportunity to participate in this function and perform meritorious deeds.

These days, however, the Kathina robe offering ceremony has transformed into a function to raise funds to maintain and support the monastery and Sangha members to enable them to work and spread the Buddhist teachings.

It is an opportunity to gain in spiritual growth and prosperity in our life. Meanwhile, the ceremonies of the invitation and forgiveness are very important ceremonies for modern days. Finally, an offering of the robe is an important opportunity for generating merit and for appreciating personal sacrifices; dedications; practices; efforts; the compassionate willingness of people to help others; and the sharing of good wishes to each and every individual. It is a hugely beneficial ceremony, therefore, for both Lay people and for Monks for their goodness and happiness, in the present, in the middle, and future, in the ultimate reality, until the achievement of Nibbana.

May this act of merit be a strong support for you, for success in life and be helpful for you in gaining the ultimate happiness of Nibbana.

[1] Five precepts are:

1. Learn not to harm/kill any beings but share loving-kindness regardless of any class

2. Learn not to steal or not taking which is not given but be generous or helping mind

3. Learn not to sexually misconduct but respecting sense of family and brotherhood

4. Learn not to speak false/lies but be truthful and living righteously

5. Learn not to indulging any things that reduce consciousness but being aware of the moments

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