Sunday, 4 November 2012

PSMC Kathina Festival

Sayadaw U Pannathami
Kathina is a Theravada Buddhist festival that is widely celebrated throughout SE-Asia. The festival marks the end of Vassa, the three-month rainy season retreat for Theravada Buddhists. Kathina provides an opportunity for lay Buddhists to express gratitude to monks; they bring donations to temples, especially new robes for the monks.

The festival originates from a legend that thirty monks were travelling with the intention of spending Vassa with Gautama Buddha. However, Vassa began before they reached their destination and they had to stop. According to Buddha's teachings monks shouldn't travel during Vassa (the rainy season) as they may unintentionally harm crops and/or insects during their journey. Therefore, the monks had to stop their journey.

Afterwards, the Buddha rewarded the monks by demonstrating a way to practice sharing and generosity. A lay disciple had previously donated cloth to the Buddha, so the Buddha now gave that cloth to the group of monks and told them to make it into a robe and then offer it as a gift to one of them. A frame, called a Kathina, was used to spread the robe while it was being made.

The Panditarama Sydney Meditation Centre celebrated Kathina with a festival held on Sunday 4th November 2012 at the Villawood Senior Citizens Centre. Approximately 400 people attended.

The weather was beautiful and there was more than enough food for everyone. Aside from a large crowd of lay people, the event was also attended by Sayadaws (monks) from St Marys, Campsie, Canley Vale and of course the Panditarama Centre’s two resident Sayadaws.

Food was offered to the monks at 11am, this was followed by a luncheon for all the lay people who attended. The formal ceremonies started at 12:30pm with participants paying homage to the Buddha by chanting “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa” three times. This translates from Pali to English as “Homage to Him, the Blessed One, the Exalted One, the Fully Enlightened One."

The lay people then took the five precepts, which are:
  •  Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
  • Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
  • Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.
  • Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.
  • Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami - I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.
  The Sayadaws chanted the Metta Sutta and the Adanatiya Sutta. You can find details of these Suttas and many more at
Robe offering

This was followed by a speech delivered by Ko Min Thein on behalf of PSMC, then Dr Daw Khin Than Kywe spoke on behalf of the Kathina sponsors. The sponsors then offered Kathina robes to the Sayadaws. In total there were 12 groups of sponsors.

Sayadaw U Pannathami gave a Dhamma Talk and told the gathering that when you offer Kathina robes you will receive Five benefits …

  • You will not have any obstacles and you will be free to go anywhere as you wish,
  • You will not have a heavy heart to act or do anything ethical,
  • No matter what you eat it won't have any harm.
  • Your belongings won't get destroyed by the five enemies (water, fire, authorities, thieves or persons who dislike you),
  • Nobody will take anything from you without your permission
  • The merit from these actions is shared with all beings.
The final formality of the day was the opportunity for all lay people to offer robes to the monks.

food offering

food line - worth the wait

robe offering
Robe offering

(Photos courtesy of Myo Win - sadhu, sadhu, sadhu.)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Rob! I can see your great effort in this beautiful piece of writing- very informative, including the Sutta link page too. Though I am away and REALLY miss such an important ceremony, but I feel so close and in touch with the people now.......Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
    - Yong 15/11/2012