Kathina is a Pali word referring to the wooden frame used to measure the length and width by which the robes of Buddhist monks are cut.
As the legend goes, thirty bhikkhus were journeying with the intention of spending Vassa with Gautama Buddha. However, the rains began before they reached their destination and they had to stop at Saketa. According to Buddha's guidelines for Vassa, mendicant monks shouldn't travel during the rainy season as they may unintentionally harm crops and/or insects during their journey. As such, the monks had to stop.
The bhikkhus passed their time together without conflict and practicing Dhamma so afterwards, the Buddha rewarded the monks by demonstrating a way to practice sharing and generosity. A lay disciple had previously donated pieces of cloth to the Buddha, so the Buddha now gave the pieces to the group of monks and told them to make it into a robe and then offer it as a gift to one of them. A frame, called a Kathina, was used to hold the pieces while they were being made into one robe.
How Kathina is celebrated in Cambodia
Starting from the 1st day after the end of the Rains Retreat for the next 29 days, Kathina is celebrated throughout Cambodia.
Each monastery can receive only one Kathina during the whole season.
In Cambodia, the kathina festival season is very popular and people are keen to take part in at least one Kathina ceremony. However, some people may wish to attend as many as they can. It is a well-known wish for many people to be able to attend 7 Kathina ceremonies at 7 different monasteries in order to create abundant merits for themselves and their families. It is a very joyful occasion when many people, especially women dressed up in traditional clothes to go to a Kathina ceremony in the monasteries in cities, towns and villages. They have lunch at the monasteries. People prepare a lot of special dishes, usually in big quantities to offer to the monks and share with other people who come for this special event.
At a Kathina celebration, there is a colourful procession which usually includes a traditional musical band with singers and dancers wearing masks of some famous characters in the khmer folklores, walking along the streets to go to the monastery, making some funny gestures and jokes, inviting people to join in the fund-raising activity. People can give some money (notes) to be tied on to "a money tree". There can be many of these money trees, Some people carry the Kathina robes and other requisites, on their heads, to be offered to the monks.
Kathina is a great opportunity for Buddhists to cultivate their spirit of generosity by donating generously to support the monks and also the monastery where people can go to learn and practise the Buddha-Dhamma, and also obtain free counselling from monks who might have developed wisdom from their daily practice of the Buddha teachings.
In Buddhism people are free to give or not to give. Nobody is forced to give. Usually there are leaders of the kathina who may put in a larger amount of money and other people are invited to participate in this particular religious activity by making donations to the monastery. The funds raised from a Kathina will be used for a construction project or the upkeep of the monastery. It has become a major fund raising activity for the monastery which takes place annually.
Program on 7 October 2017 at Dhammayanaram
1. Chanting / Blessings - 10 am
2. Dhamma Talk in English and Khmer - 10 30 am
3. Offering Dana to monks - alms round - 11.00 am.
4. Shared lunch - 11:30 a.m.
5. Procession of the Kathina offerings around the Vihara - 12 :15 pm.
Guests are welcome to join us. You may wish to bring Dana (food) to offer to the monks and share with other people.