Kathina Ceremony April 9, 2023
On Sunday, April 9, the Abbey celebrates the ancient ceremony of kathina (pronounced kuh-teen-ah). Established by the Buddha, kathina is a time to rejoice in the virtue created by the sangha during the monastic retreat (varsa) and the concluding ceremony (pravarana). It also celebrates the interdependence of sangha and the lay community. Learn more about monastic ceremonies here.
There will be opportunities to attend in person or watch online on YouTube. See the event listing for more details. The detailed schedule and registration information will be posted later in March.
Kathina celebrations in Asia
Kathina is widely celebrated in Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia. Traditionally, to generate merit or good karma, lay followers make offerings of the four requisites—food, clothing, medicine, and shelter—to replenish the monastery’s supplies after the long monastic retreat.
Historically, the kathina is especially for the offering of monastic robes. At the time of the Buddha, cloth was hard to come by. In addition, monastics’ robes were usually worn out after retreat. The kathina rituals include offering a “robe of merit,” a new robe that lay people formally offer to the ordained sangha. The sangha, in turn, gives the robe to a monastic who needs it most.
In Asia, the kathina is a huge community festival. One of the Abbey’s Theravada friends told us they sometimes even have an elephant in the parade of offerings! Ingenious Abbey friends created a moose placard to lead our offering procession, an American Pacific Northwest twist that replaces the elephant.
Kathina at Sravasti Abbey
At the Abbey, we begin our kathina celebration with a procession of guests bearing their offerings. Everyone then gathers until the formal ceremony begins. Until we have the new Buddha Hall, we’ll do this in Chenrezig Hall where we can stream the proceedings.
With chanting and a Dharma talk, the monastics invite the lay guests for a brief, inside look at sangha ceremonies. Then a representative offers the robe of merit to the abbess or senior monastic on behalf of the entire lay community.
We conclude kathina with a festive vegetarian potluck lunch for those who are present. We hope you’ll be there too!
For a sense of the joy and celebration of kathina, see pictures from 2022.
Want to know more?
- Abbey founder and abbess Venerable Thubten Chodron explains the history and meaning of kathina, then leads a beautiful meditation on rejoicing in this video talk.
- Watch other talks by Sravasti Abbey monastics on the significance of kathina here.
- Watch the past kathina celebrations from 2022 and 2021.
- Community needs are posted on our Wish List, if you’d like to make a kathina offering. (The list will be updated through April 9.)