In October, Chef Nikky and her family had a once-in-a-lifetime privilege of presenting the Royal Kathina and hosting the Kathina ceremony at Wat Dallas. Members of the North Texas Thai and Buddhist communities attended the event, many dressed in traditional attire.
Unlike in previous years, this year’s Kathina ceremony was not as crowded. Before, the Kathina normally attracted an attendance of at least 500 people. This year, however, with the coronavirus crisis looming, only a hundred or so turned up. All of the attendees wore face masks and observed social distancing. Moreover, a great part of the ceremony was held outdoors.
Nonetheless, the warm spirit of merit-making was indeed present throughout the event. In fact, despite the low attendance, this year’s Kathina raised more funds for Wat Dallas than in previous years.
The Kathina is a Buddhist festival for making merit and showing gratitude.
The Kathina is an age-old festival that Buddhists of Southeast Asia celebrate. The festival comes at the end of Vassa, the three-month rainy season. It’s a time for making merit and showing gratitude to the monks who dedicated their lives in prayer for the people’s welfare. The event is always marked by giving gifts to the monks at the local temple. These gifts include food, toiletries, medicine, writing supplies, and other necessities the monks may need throughout the year.
A central feature of the festival is the presentation of the kathina to the monks. The kathina is fabric traditionally stretched on a wooden frame before it’s made into monks’ robes. This frame is known as “kathin” and gives the ceremony its name. Buddhist laypeople may present the kathina to the monks.
In Thailand, Buddhist temples under royal patronage get their kathina from the King himself or a member of the Thai royal family designated to represent him. In this case, the fabric is known as Royal Kathina.
Chef Nikky had the privilege to present the Royal Kathina to the monks of Wat Dallas. The Royal Kathina came from the royal temples of Thailand. King Rama X himself blessed it. The Kathina ceremony, on the other hand, was sponsored by Thai restaurant owners in North Texas: Asian Mint, Best Thai Signature, Too Thai, and Best Thai Restaurant Group. They have been supporting the event for the last three years.
The Kathina ceremony aims to raise funds for Wat Dallas’s new cultural center.
As mentioned earlier, the Kathina ceremony is a fundraising event for Wat Dallas. The proceeds are earmarked for the utilities and maintenance of the temple.
However, the temple faces an extraordinary challenge this year. In 2019, the tornado that passed through Dallas hit the temple’s cultural center. The center had to be torn down because asbestos was found in the building. For the Dallas Thai community, the center is a rich resource for learning the Thai language, music, culture, and traditions. The community needs to raise more funds to rebuild the cultural center.
You can learn more about the Kathina ceremony and the donation drive for the cultural center on the Wat Dallas Facebook page. And if you can, please donate.
Stay safe, and see you soon.
Image: Wat Dallas | Facebook