The Royal Kathin Ceremony - Past and Present

Wat Arun

Theravada Buddhists holding a three-month rainy season retreat called Vassa. Usually the monks should remain at their temple and concentrate on their practise following the rules of the Vinaya. 

At the end of Vassa they have a one month Buddhist fetsival, called Kathina. It beginns after the full moon of the eleventh month in the lunar calendar. This is the time of giving and the most significant merit making festival in Thailand. Everybody is spending at least once in a lifetime clothes for monks. Buddhist monks shouldn't travel during this three month-retreat. 

Originally is the Kathin Ceremony (some transcribts showing "Gathin") from the time of Buddha. The legend says, a group of monks were traveling to meet Lord Buddha, but they weren't able to finish their journey before the rain begans and so they had to make a break until the end of the rainy season.
Afterwards they finished and met Lord Buddha. When he saw the soaked and dirty robes of the monks, he offered his previously donated clothes and told them to make new robes of it.

The full name of this Buddhist festival in Thai is "Thot Kathin". "Thot" means offering something to a monk.

"Kathin" or "Kathina" has four different meanings:

- Kathina is a festival of Buddhists at the end of the three month period of retreat during the rainy season. 
- It is a wooden frame is called Kathina. It helps to stretch the robe while it is being made.
- Krathina is any kind of clothes offered to the monks and made on the wooden frame tool
- The name of the ceremony when Robes are presented to the monks. It is the name of a Buddhist ritual.

There exists two Kathina ceremonies:

Krathina Luang - Royal Kathina: Ceremonies held at the royal temples.

Krathina Rart - Krathina Ratsdorn: Ceremonies at public temples

When the Royals are celebrating this tradition at a royal temple it is called "Royal Kathin Ceremony",  "Royal Kathina Ceremony",  or "Royal Krathina Ceremony" nowadays.

The presentation of Kathin by the King of Thailand or HM representatives is called "The Royal Kathin Ceremony" and has been held often as part of The "Royal Barge Procession". More background informations about the "Royal Barge Procession".

The Procession involves barges carrying the deeply revered Buddha image (Phra Buddha Sihing) and members of the royal family present offerings of saffron kathin robes, food and other necessities to the monks at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej revived the "Royal Kathin Ceremony" as part of the "Royal Barge Procession" first time in 1959. Together they will be held in unregular intervals.

After the last event in 2006 it is furthermore a very rare an unique opportunity like a once in a lifetime experience! Take your Chance to be part of this ancient spectacle!

The official name of this years event, held on November, 9th is called:

 "The Royal Barge Procession to Present the Royal Kathin Ceremony in a part of The Celebration on the Auspicious Occasion of His Majesty the King's 85th Birthday Anniversary 5th December 2012"

This year, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will preside over the "Royal Barge Procession" on behalf of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej. His Highness will board the Royal Barge "Suphannahong" at the Vasukri Royal Landing Pier.

Maha Varjiralongkorn
© Sidakan

The "Royal Barge Procession" will lead until Wat Arun, where His Royal Highness will present the new robes to monks within the framework of the "Royal Kathin Ceremony" at Wat Arun.

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