Sunday, October 16, 2011

LA Buddhist temples celebrate Kathina

Wisdom Quarterly
People joyously make meritorious offerings of robes to monks (viktorwong-amtbedu blog)
  • What: Sacred Kathina Ceremony
  • When: Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011, 9:00 am
  • Where: DVBV, 1847 Crenshaw Blvd., LA, 90019
  • Meditation: 7:00 pm Tuesdays and Fridays. Free. Instruction available. Open at any time. Membership encouraged.

Kathina is a Buddhist festival held in October and November. For 2600 years families have gathered to take part in the largest alms-giving ceremony of the Buddhist year. Friends, old and new, parents, and children join together in a celebration on the theme of harmony.

Kathina occurs at the end of the Vas, the three month rains retreat. Monastic residents have been obliged by their rules (Vinaya) to not travel unless absolutely necessary. Now some of them will move on. This may mean resuming the life of a mendicant wanderer or going to live in another monastery. So it is time for leaving and extending welcome.

And as winter approaches supporters are checking to see that the basic needs of monks and nuns are being met. It is with regard to the offering of these requisites that this festival comes about.

Origins: According to sacred Buddhist scriptures, a group of 30 monastics were once journeying with the intention of spending the retreat season with the Buddha. However, it began before they reached their destination. And it was required that they stop traveling due to all the crawling life that springs up in India and Asia during the monsoon.

Although they lived harmoniously during the retreat, they were unhappy at not being able to be with the Buddha. When they were allowed to travel again, they continued on to see him. Hearing of their unhappy sojourn, the Buddha decided to cheer them up by allowing them to roam freely after the rains retreat to gather cloth for robes.

The Buddha knew that nothing is so uplifting as sharing and generosity. He established a procedure whereby the monastics could agree among themselves to make a gift of this special cloth acquired to one of their number. So when they had enough cloth, the monastics set about sewing a robe.

In those days the method used involved spreading the pieces of cloth on a frame and stitching them together. This sturdy frame was called a kathina. More