The Kathina festival comes at the end of the three-month rainy season retreat for Theravada Buddhists in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In Cambodia, the Kathina is a time when people come together to make offerings to the monks and to show their appreciation for the teachings of the Buddha. The festival is also a time for people to renew their own commitment to the path of enlightenment.
The dates vary within the rainy season period of the last three months but only take one month for the festive period where the celebration happens at every pagoda around Cambodia.
The Kathina festival is a special time of year for Buddhists, and preparation is important to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Here are some steps of how Cambodian people celebrate the festival:
1. Choose a date and location: The Kathina festival usually takes place in October, and usually, people either choose to celebrate in the pagoda or at the home and then bring their offerings to the pagoda.
2. Invitation: Monks are invited during the ceremony as the festival is centered around monks. Other people join through invitations as well.
3. Collect donations: One of the main purposes of the Kathina festival is to make donations to monks. So when people join the Kathina usually bring offerings in the form of things or financial support.
4. Prepare food. At the venue, there will be many people at the festival, so the hosts or the people who initiate the ceremony need to make sure to have enough food to feed everyone.
5. Set up tents: this refers to tents for ceremonies beside their houses.
6. Decorate: The Kathina festival is a festive occasion, so take the time to decorate in traditional religious ways.
7. Offering: The offerings are brought to the pagoda using different transportation depending on how far the pagoda is, it can be across provinces or nearby the pagoda. Sometimes, people use boats, cars, and other different types of transportation available. As arrived at the pagoda, they offer things to monks in the temple.
If you're on holiday in Cambodia during this festive period and you want to join or learn more about local traditions, we recommend:
- respect people at the ceremony with hands and smile
- donate: it can be money or helping around, maybe with decoration or cooking, taking photos or carrying things
- you can dance as people do while bringing the offerings to the pagoda.