On July 16, 2023, a date forever etched in my heart, I had the extraordinary honor of receiving a special invitation to host Ranagirilena Arayana Forest Monastery in the enchanting land of Sri Lanka on the auspicious occasion of Kathina. As I embarked on this spiritual journey, I could not help but marvel at the significance of this revered Buddhist tradition.
Kathina is a time-honored event celebrated during Vassa, the three-month rainy retreat during which dedicated monks retreat to their monastic residences to deepen their meditation practice and strengthen their spiritual connection. It is a time of profound introspection and growth for the monastic community, and I was honored to be a part of it.
As we approached the tranquil monastery, set amidst the lush greenery of Sri Lanka’s natural beauty, we were welcomed with boundless warmth and love. The monks and the entire monastic community greeted us with open arms and welcomed us as like-minded people embarking on a common journey of selfless service.
For this special occasion, the monastery had invited 35 esteemed monks from different parts of the world. These forest-dwelling monks had dedicated their lives to the pursuit of higher spiritual realization, and it was our privilege to offer them 35 robes, traditional herbs and leaves, brooms, toiletries, and other essentials as an act of dana paramita – the virtue of generosity.
With hearts full of gratitude and humility, we participated in the Kathina ceremony with deep reverence. As the 35 monks descended from their secluded retreats and gracefully entered the temple grounds, the atmosphere was infused with an ethereal sense of spirituality. It was an impressive sight – a manifestation of devotion and commitment to the path of enlightenment.
The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of the Atapirikara, a revered symbol of monastic life, to each of the monks. As we presented these sacred objects to the venerable souls, we felt a deep sense of honor to be part of a tradition that has existed for more than 2500 years, promoting unity, compassion, and spiritual growth.