One may wonder as to why the offerings made at the time of Vassana rains retreat bring more merits. The reason why Katina offering takes the pride of place has to be assessed from the point of view of conditions which prevailed in India in the sixth century, B.C.Before the common era the Sangha were those who had abandoned the house hold life to the homeless life who had to get about their four-fold requisites, alms, robes, shelter and medicine.
The intensity of the monsoon rains made their life extremely difficult.There were no proper roads and also there were uncleared large forest tracks. At times rains compelled monks to remain indoors and at times they were deprived of food apart from other requisites.
Hence offerings made during Vassana assumed a greater significance and verily greater merits.
The origin of the Katina - Cheevara is related in Mahavagga. When the Buddha was residing at Savatti about 30 monks left Pava in Kosala with the intention of observing Vas with the Buddha. Because of heavy rains they were unable to reach Savatti and were forced to stay at Saketa a few leagues away where they observed Vas.
After concluding the rain retreat at Saketa they resumed their journey to Savatti to pay obeisance to the Buddha.
By the time they met the Buddha all the monks were fully franked to the skin, their robes were soaked with rainwater and also covered with mud.
The Buddha felt very sympathetic towards these monks who were shivering with cold and realised that if they had an extra robe they could have washed the robes they were clad in.
So the Buddha bought in a rule that a monk who had observed Vas and finished Pavarana could possess another robe in addition to the set of three prescribed earlier ‘Vassam Vutthanam Bhikkunam Katinam.”
In the Mahavagga Pali it describes about the procedures for an Uposatha meeting the assembly of Sangha on every Full Moon day,and on the 14th or 15th day of lunar month when Patimokkha, a summary of disciplinary rules is recited. Then there are rules to be observed in Vassana for the rains retreat as well as those for the formal ceremony of Pavarana the conclusion of rains retreat, in which a Bhikku invites criticism from his brethren suspected about his conduct.There are also rules concerning sick Bhikkhus, the use of leather foot-wear and furniture, materials for robes and those concerning
medicine and food. A separate section deals with the Katina ceremonies where annual offering of robes takes place.
In the time before the evolution of Katina robe, a monk was entitled only to one set of robes consisting three different robes because through insufficient experience the Buddha’s instruction was three robes that were sufficient to keep off the cold. (Ticivaram; Digunam Sangha tim, Ekacciyam, Uttara-Sangham, Ekacciyam - Antara Vasakanti. Generally what we call, Depata Sivura, Tanipata Sivura,and Andanaya. These robes were made out of pieces of cloth thrown away in the cemeteries in which corpses were wrapped in, or out of cloth picked up from bathing spots. Mahavagga has mentioned 23
places from where such discarded cloths could be obtained. Stitched in an orderly manner washed and dyed as robes, these were called Pansakula - civara. This word Pansakula persists and is currently used to connote different meanings. Its original meaning perhaps is buried under the corpses of those days.
Today the offering of the Katina robe occupies as the most important event in a Vas-Pinkama. In most of the temples ‘Dayakas’ devotees have to wait in a waiting list to get this remarkably good opportunity to offer a Katina robe. Katina robe is something exceptional because it can be offered only once a year to only one monk who has observed Was in one ‘Sima’ temple.
A Katina robe is usually offered as a ‘Kada’ a cloth to be cut according to required measurements, stitched and dyed on the same day. Majority of our devotees nowadays offer a saffron colour cloth so that dyeing is avoided.
On the day of the Pavarana, conclusion of the Vas retreat the devotees offer the Katina-Kada in the morning and then the Bhikkhus who have observed Vas with them in that particular temple consent to give it to the most deserving Bhikkhu. By evening recipient monk has towear it and deliver the “Katinanisansa-Bana” a sermon on the benefits of holding a Katina-Pinkama.
It is said that anyone who adds even one single stitch in the process of stitching this robe would enjoy the splendour of “chakravarti” universal monarch and be blessed with all the treasures a mortal could ever wish for in this world. Venerable Nagita who was an Arahat described in the presence of the Buddha the merits he acquired in the Previous births by offering Katina-robes and Katina Dana. For incalculable birth he was born in this world into very wealthy families or
in the six heavens. For 18 aeons he enjoyed heavenly bliss and thirty four times he was born as ‘Sakra,’ the king of gods. In Nagitapadana Ven. Nagita describes about the blessings gained by offering Katina robes and Katina-Dana thus: “If one is to give all types of offerings, for a hundred years continuously the merits of accruing from such an alms-giving is only about 1/16th of the merit of one single Katina Dana.”
“Again he says that even if 84,000 Viharas are built, a mountain of silver is offered or a stupa of gold is constructed the merits of one Katina-Dana supersedes all that. The Buddha Himself has praised the Katina-Dana as the foremost of all alms.” Sanghassa-Dinnam Katinam Aggam, Buddhena Vannitam.”
Those who offer four-fold requisites would never experience torture in the hells. A person who has offered robes is born in this world will have a noble birth, can be a prestigious leader, loved equally well by gods and men. All these merits contribute towards the realization of Nirvana.
Offering of Atapirikara
Of the eight items included in the Atapirikara the first three being robes. Offering of robes gives the offerer a golden coloured body, he or she will live with majesty and receive clothing of various sorts.“Pati Puja” offering of belts gives concentration, retinue, helps to live without fear and doubt and make others abide by his decisions.By offering ‘Patra’ begging bowls one would get the bliss of using jewels, gold, pearls and gems and be blessed with food, clothing and
shelter. Our who offers razors will be an invincible leader with onepointedness of mind. He will have endurance and possesses great wisdom to uproot all defilements. He will never face accidents or dangers and will receive honour and be devoted to Dhamma.It is said that by offering needles one gets, the fortune to dispel all doubts and have wisdom to understand and realize subtle meanings.The eighth item ‘Perahan Kada’ is the strainer which would bless the offerer with healthy long life and never be subjected to dangers from robbers, enemies, poison or lethal weapons.
By offering beds one would not be born in a hell for 94 aeons, be blessed with all treasures like a universal monarch. Offering of tables and chairs would make the offerer born in noble families and earn fame, respect, and popularity. Bestowal of arm chairs would bring the bliss of enjoying the attendance of wife, children, and servants and also luxury vehicles.
Donating, pillows and mattresses one could obtain comfortable luxury items, Donation of cup-boards, large boxes, would bring protection,fame, praise, long-lasting treasures and not prone to mishaps.By offering walking sticks would result in having many sons, not be subjected to any mental agony and everything that he or she touches will turn into gold.
If an umbrella is offered one would not suffer from intense heat or cold and would possess a clean mind and a body, while offering incense burners would give great majesty. If one donates brooms,ekel-brooms, dusters, rugs, carpets etc. he or she will be blessed with servants.
“Kap-Ruk Puja.” wish conferring tree, up-to-date this puja is performed by planting a huge branch of a tree in a box of sand in the morning of the Katina-Dana. devotees hang all kinds of offerings on this tree and keep the heavy items near its base, Kap-Ruk Puja gives every imaginable luxurious items that one could ever wish for and It is believed that in the Tusita Heaven there is a ‘Sura-Tura’, wish conferring tree from which those in heavenly abodes could obtain from it anything they desire. Perhaps this idea may have inspired this puja, that if you hang or keep on this tree that the temple requires one
will have heavenly bliss, No one can dispute over the merits accruing from the offering of the Katina robe and Katina Dana, also supplying the four-fold requisites of the Sangha, during the vas season. These Virtues are extolled by all the Buddhas as stable, solid, and unshakeable
merits as evinced by the pithy sayings of venerable Nagita in the Nagitapadana. This being the ‘Vas’ season which comes only once a year it is an opportune that those Buddhists who believe in a here after realize that death comes unobtrusively and instead of devoting all their time to collect wealth, fame, and popularity it is judicious to accumulate something solid and substantial to take to the other side by devoting at least a bit out of their income to Katina-Dana, Sila, and Bhavana lessening their ego-centredness.