Kathina Ceremony April 10, 2022
On Sunday, April 10, the Abbey joins celebrate 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.
This year, we welcome fully vaccinated guests. We will also broadcast live on our YouTube Channel, beginning at 9:30 am Pacific Time. For in person guests, we’ll share a vegetarian potluck lunch. Then, in the afternoon, we’ll offer service together—rolling mantra or even garden or forest work, weather permitting. See the event listing for more details.
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.
This year, the Ong family of Malaysia and Friends of Sravasti Abbey in Singapore have generosuly offered the Robe of Merit on behalf of the people of Ukraine.
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 for 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.
Our online ceremony will include the ceremonial offering of the robe of merit. The Ong family in Malaysia hasagain sponsored the robe of merit, this time on behalf of the people in Ukraine. Thanks to Zoom, we hope representatives will be able join in the formal ceremony.
We hope you’ll be there too!
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 2020 Kathina and Volunteer Celebration here.
- Community needs will be posted on our Wish List by April 1 if you’d like to make a kathina offering. (The list will be updated through April 8.)