Sunday, October 27, 2013

Katina Ceremony: Buddhist "Lent" ends

Dhr. Seven, CC Liu, Ven. Chandananda, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
The "Rains Retreat" period (Vas or "Buddhist Lent") comes to an end with the Kathina Robe Offering Ceremony, Los Angeles Buddhist Vihara, Pasadena, California
St. Francis and the animals (Catholic Fire)
The Katina Festival is celebrated in Theravada countries around the world. It marks the end of the three-month Rains Retreat (Vas) period when monastics retire to monasteries for intensive meditation, study, and/or teaching.

Lay Buddhists gather weekly on lunar observance days (uposatha), which falls on new-, half-, and full-moon days, to hear the Dharma and cultivate learning (suta), virtuous behavior (sila), and meditative techniques (bhavana).

Monastic study during Vas (
At the time of the Buddha a special durable-robe, the katina robe, ceremony was designated. The Buddha called this the highest offering of laypeople to the Sangha since it is given to the entire monastic community, which after intensive practice likely contains more enlightened individuals than before the Rains Retreat. Therefore, the karma one generates in giving to them collectively is more "durable" like the sturdy robe constructed just for this occasion.

The three-month period corresponding to the ancient Indian calendar's monsoon season has come to be called "Buddhist Lent" just as Vesak is sometimes referred to as "Buddhist Christmas," marking the same full moon day of the month on which the Buddha was born, attained enlightenment, and passed into final nirvana. This shorthand may seem silly, but it is only meant to facilitate understanding of the significance of these events around the world. It may also point to a common Eastern origin in Buddhism, Hinduism, and/or Paganism for many festivals now unquestioningly considered "Christian" holidays. 
Many beautiful Catholic, Orthodox, and Essene (early mystic Jewish and early Christian) monastic/contemplative practices have direct origins in the Buddhist monasticism they inherited as the wisdom of the East.

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