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October 20, 2017
'Katina' Ceremony at the Thames Buddhist Vihara
Thames Buddhist Vihara celebrated its annual 'Katina Cheevara Pooja', (offering of the 'Katina' robe) Ceremony, on Sunday 15th October 2017, for the 35th year, attended by a large gathering of devotees, many of whom, clad in traditional white 'Sil' attire, had observed the 'Nine Precepts' (Navanga Upositha Seela), administered by Ven. Kohukumbure Siridamma Thera.

Ven. Kanthale Wijithawansa Nayaka Thera, Acting Head of Thames Buddhist Vihara, extended a very warm welcome to all the Venerables and everyone else attending the Ceremony and explained that 'Katina' Ceremony was the highest of the eight meritorious acts that a Buddhist can perform, as 'Katina' was a rare, 'once a year only' opportunity. He explained in detail that wearing of the saffron robe alone, acted as a safeguard, to protect Buddhist Venerables, against wrong doings and at the same time encouraged them to uphold the many precepts, they undertake to maintain, while serving in the Buddha Sasana.

The 'Katina' Ceremony was the culmination of 'Vassa' (Rains Retreat) observed by Venerables, who were invited, three months before, by the devotees to spend 'Vassa' at the Thames Buddhist Vihara, promising to attend to all their needs and the Venerables in return, promising to engage in additional religious performances and Dharma discussions, for mutual benefit. The devotees who observed 'Nine Precepts' participated in a day–long programme of Buddha 'Poojas', sermons, Dharma discussions, meditations and offerings of 'Ata Pirikara', and other items of 'Pirikara', to the Venerables.

The morning session ended with the offering of 'Dana', (midday meal), sponsored by Mr and Mrs Santha Dissanayaka and family assisted by the Members of the General Committee of the Thames Meditation Society and parents of the Sunday School pupils, to the assembly of Venerables, those who have observed 'Nine Precepts' and to all participants. Ven. Akurala Samitha Thera, Head of Letchworth Dhammanikethana Buddhist Vihara, speaking in English, outlined the laudable service rendered by the Thames Vihara, over the years, and reminisced over his long association with Society and devotees. He pointed out the benefits that the parents could pass on to their children, by involving them in the age old annual religious ceremonies like 'Katina.'

For the third year running, the 'Katina robe' was taken in Procession (Srilankan tradition) along the whole length of Dulverton Road, led by the Troupe of young drummers, Sunday School pupils, clad in stunning, elegant and ceremonial garments. Residents of the neighbourhood, who have been informed of the event beforehand, gathered along the route to enjoy the Pageant.

The 'Katina robe', which was stitched and prepared, strictly in accordance with the cherished Buddhist tradition, was sponsored, by the Dissanayaka family. Ven. Madugalle Mahanama Thera of Sambodhi Buddhist Vihara, Upton Park, outlined the historical origins of 'Katina'; Ven. Konwewe Ariyarathana Thera, of the London Buddhist Vihara, speaking in English expanded on the importance of keeping our traditions and rituals alive, which alone guaranteed their long term survival and Ven. Mathugama Palitha Thera, Head of Cambridge Buddhist Vihara, not only conducted the formal 'Katina' Ceremony, the dedication of 'Kapruka', the wish fulfilling tree, laden with gifts, but also in his long sermon, detailed the truths that the Buddha set out in his numerous sermons, solely for our benefit, which we should always try to incorporate into our lives. The assembly of the Venerables, by common consent, elected Ven. Kohukumbure Siridamma Thera, to be the worthy recipient, of the 'Katina' robe.

Ven. Dediyawala Wimala Maha Nayaka Thera, Head of Letchworth Buddhist Vihara; Ven. Dodamgoda Sumedha Thera, and Ven. Baddegama Jinananda Thera of Athuladassana International Buddhist Centre, Hounslow; Ven. Bandarawela Gnanasumana Thera of Eastham Buddhist Vihara and Ven. Dombawela Amitha Thera, of Thames Buddhist Vihara also took part in the Ceremony.

In his 'Punyanumodana', Ven. Kohuhumbure Siridhamma Thera, while transferring merit acquired in taking part in the 'Katina' Ceremony, thanked everyone, who have worked hard to make the Ceremony, including the Procession, an outstanding success, and in particular took the opportunity to transfer merit to his teacher Ven. Pahalagama Somaratana Nayaka Thera.

On behalf of the resident Venerables and Members of the Thames Meditation Society, President Dr. Herath Kularatne expressed his gratitude to those who attended, and invited everyone to the special religious Ceremony to be held on Saturday 2nd December 2017, to say 'good bye' to Ven. Kanthale Wijithawansa Nayaka Thera, who was due to leave, in January 2018 after serving the Society for two years. Drs. Shiroma Bandara and Mathesa Gunathilake conducted meditations and religious discussions. Ceremony ended with the 'Buddha Pooja', usually held on Sunday evenings.
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