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Annual Kathina ceremony of London Thames Buddhist Vihara
Pictures by Gihan Jayathilaka

Thames Buddhist Vihara celebrated its annual 'Katina Cheevara Pooja', (offering of the 'Katina' robe) Ceremony, on Sunday 13th November 2016, for the 34th 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. Kothmale Sumedha Thero, Thames Buddhist Vihara. Ven. Kanthale Wijithawansa Thero, Acting Head of Thames Buddhist Vihara, while explaining that ‘Katina’ was the highest of the eight meritorious acts that a Buddhist can perform, as ‘Katina’ was a rare, 'once a year only' opportunity, emphasised that only by purifying the mind of defilements, the reality of the human condition could be understood.

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 Vihara, promising to attend to all their needs and 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 robes to the Venerables. The morning session ended with the 'Dana', (midday meal), sponsored by Mr and Mrs Sanjaya Kodithuwakku, parents of the Sunday School children, to the assembly of Venerables, those who have observed 'Nine Precepts' and to all participants.

For the second year running, the devotees added the popular element to the Ceremony, by taking the ‘Katina’ robe in a procession (Srilankan tradition) along the whole length of Dulverton  Road. The procession was led by the Troupe of young drummers (Sunday School pupils trained by Neeta Rohini Wijewickrama), 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, stitched and prepared according to the cherished Buddhist tradition, was sponsored by the Kodithuwakku family. Ven. Kamburawala Rewatha Nayaka Thero, Chief Incumbent of Scotland Buddhist Vihara and Lecturer of Glasgow University, conducted the formal 'Katina' Ceremony, and the dedication of 'Kapruka', the wish fulfilling tree, laden with gifts. The assembly of the Venerables, by common consent, elected Ven. Kanthale Wijithawansa Thero, as the worthy recipient, of the 'Katina' robe.

Ven. Kamburawala Rewatha Nayaka Thero outlined the laudable service rendered by the Thames Vihara and reminisced over his long association with the Thames Vihara and its devotees. Ven. Dodamgoda Siri Sumedha Thero, Acting Head of Leicester Buddhist Vihara, in his sermon, explained how the teachings of the Buddha could be incorporated into our day-to-day living. Ven. Mathugama Palitha Thero, Scotland Buddhist Vihara, Glassgow; Ven. Madugalle Mahanama Thero; Sri Sambodhi Buddhist Vihara, Upton Park; Ven. Wanduramba Kasspa Thero, Head of Athuladassana Buddhist Vihara, Hounslow; Venerables Agalakada Pangnarama Thero and Omalpe Sumanasara Thero, Dharmasoka Buddhist Vihara, Leicester, also took part in the Ceremony.

On behalf of the resident Venerables and Members of the Thames Meditation Society, President Dr. Herath Kularatne expressed his gratitude and profusely thanked those who helped to make the Ceremony a great success and in particular, those who organised the procession. 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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