Kathina Civara Daan is a famous religious programme of Buddhists all over the world. This unique celebration takes place in several areas in Tripura. In the era of consumerism and materialism, Purnita Chakma re-visits objectives of Kathina Civara Daan for finding a peaceful way of living and highlights religious and cultural uniqueness of Chakma people while celebrating the programme with all sections of the society. Community cooking and other such activities depict strength of unity and humbleness. Even though, it is a Buddhist rituals, people breaking all socio-religious barrier participate in the programme .
Agartala, November 05, 2019: Kathina Civara Daan is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrated by the Buddhist community – by the Theravada Buddhists all over the world. Kathina means hard, stiff or difficult. Civara means robe.
A closer look at the Kathina Civara Daan reveals a number of Buddhist rules and regulations. For example, monks observe the rain-retreat for three months (vassavass). At the end of the rain-retreat they perform the Pavarana (Invitation). After rain-retreat the Kathina robe offering ceremony takes places every year by performing Vinaya (known as the book of discipline ) activities.
It deals with the monastic rules for monks and nuns. It is further divided into three books. Basically Kathina used to be performed in two parts.
In the first half, it is followed with prayer and Buddha puja , sibali puja and thousands of candle donation ceremony etc etc. which has to be completed by 11:30 a.m. After that Vikkhu Sangha are offered with lunch before 12 noon.
According to Buddhist rules, monks are not allowed to take chew-able things after 12 noon, but they are allowed to take soft drinks. The main theme of Kathina begins at around 2:00 p.m. where many monks give the Dharma talks and highlights significance of the Kathina robe offering.
After receiving the Kathina robes monks do other activities and perform some Vinaya rules, like chanting Budda sutta. The historical background of the Kathina robe offering is mentioned in the Vinaya Pitaka while the Buddha was dwelling at Jetavana Bihar in Shravasti – a group of thirsty monks visited the Buddha after the three months rain-retreat.
The Buddha asked them about their retreat and noticed their worn out robes. It is said that at the time Monk used to wear sewn pieces of clothes collected from different places such as cemeteries, streets rubbish heaps etc. To rectify this, the Buddha granted permission to celebrate the Kathina ceremony with a condition that only those who have successfully completed their rain-retreats can accept Kathina robe.
The period of offering is the one month from the middle September-October to October-November (lunar month) and contemporary Assin to Kathika (full moon) of the Buddhist month. When the Kathina robes are being offered to the Buddhist Sangha by the followers, a group of monks will officially handover to a selected Monk (particularly to the monk of the monastery where the Kathina ceremony is performed) by performing some Buddhist rituals activities.
A monk who has received the Kathina robe is not allowed to receive the Kathina second time in the same month period. Being Theravada Buddhist Kathina Civara Daan is the most important religious festival of the Chakma community. People of Chakma community celebrates this with great devotion and sincerity.
This religious festival brings all the people united for a good cause. From every household, there has to be one representative to help in the cleaning the temple area and decoration and in other works relating to celebration. The date of the Kathina civar daan is fix by the particular committee members.
On the day of ceremony even the cooking part is done by the local people (male and female) and serving the meal to the monks is done by the group of female volunteers. And serving food to the devotees who come to attend the ceremony from different places is done by the group of young volunteers.
It is important to mention that in present days, people offer ready made robes to the Sangha due to lack of time. However, it is not the case with Chakma people. In Chakma society in Maha Kathina Civara Daan, thousands of chakma women weave robes in just one night – they start in the evening and end up by the morning. Group of women scratches the fiber, cut the threads and make the clothes after sewing the robe – resulting robe is being offered to the Sangha.
This programme aptly highlights beauty in simple living and devotion of people to monks who shun materialism and help us to transcend into realm of bliss through their religious understandings.
On this special day Chakma women wear their traditional attire. And the reason behind this, the fact is everyone should feel equal so that no one should feel awkward (poor and rich). Villagers come up with stalls with some traditional eatable items – giving a feel of unique and traditional customs of Chakma society. It is believed that the donation of robes to monks is the highest form of donation according to Buddism. When traditional values, practices and customs are facing tough challenges from overwhelming materialistic attitude, Kathina Civara Daan proudly reminds all of us about our roots – our socio-cultural roots.