Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Katina Ceremony (Buddhist "Lent" ends)

(WQ) Buddhist monastics worldwide observe a Rains Retreat (Vassa) period annually. They remain at one location and emphasize meditation and teaching the Dharma to devotees who frequent temples, monasteries, and Buddhist centers. At the conclusion of three months, which corresponds to the rainy period in ancient India, a special robe (Katina) is offered.

It is said to be the most meritorious offering, a millennia-old custom from the time of the Buddha. (See talk below). Temples throughout Los Angeles and the world are celebrating this month, each selecting a particular date. Cambodian, Bangladeshi, Burmese, Indonesian, Korean, Laotian, Sri Lankan, Thai, Vietnamese temples in particular celebrate what amounts to the second (behind Vesak) most important event on the Buddhist calendar.

Katina, LA Buddhist Vihara, Pasadena, CA, Oct. 18, 2009 (WQ).

Buddhist Community Celebrates Special Ceremony

Pavarana Purnima is a Buddhist holiday celebrated on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month. It marks the conclusion of Barsha Brata (Vassa or "Rains Retreat"), sometimes referred to by the West as "Buddhist Lent."

This day marks the end of the rainy season in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, where Theravada Buddhism has been practiced since the time of the Buddha. In India, where Buddhism began, there is a three-month rainy season. The Vinaya (Mahavagga, 4th Khandhaka, Section I) tells the origination story. Once during the rainy season, a group of wandering monks sought shelter by remaining in residence. In order to minimize the potential for interpersonal strife, they agreed to remain silent for the entire three months and settled on nonverbal cues for sharing alms.

After the rains, when the Buddha learned of their silence, he called the measure misguided. Instead, he instituted a means for dealing with potential conflict and breaches of the major monastic disciplinary rules (Patimokkha) during the rains:

Ven. Piyananda Ph.D. (abbot, Dharma Vijaya Buddhist monastery, Los Angeles, and author of The Bodhi Tree Grows in LA: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America) talks about the meaning of Katina, Pasadena, 10/18/09 (WQ).

"I prescribe, O monastics, that monastics when they have finished their rains residence, hold a gathering to determine what [offence] has been seen, heard, or suspected. Hence it will result that you live in concord, restore any lapses in discipline, and keep the rules of discipline before your eyes."

The Rains Retreat is a time of intensive meditation and reflection. Even laypersons wishing to practice alongside monastics undertake Eight Precepts. As is customary throughout the year, lay people continue to observe Uposatha days in support of their meditation practice and to re-energize their commitment to the Dharma. Physical labor (construction projects, repairs, etc.) in monasteries is curtailed.

Whenever possible, lay people use these days as an opportunity to visit their local monastery in order to make special offerings to the Sangha (ordained disciples). The Rains culminate in the Katina robe offering ceremony, which is held on any convenient date within one month of the conclusion of the retreat. It is also the time of year when new robes and other requisites are offered to the Sangha for the year. Source (Adnan/DrikNEWS)

End of the World