Related Articles: Vassana Retreat and Katina ceremony
From time immemorial, Vap is known as the period of sowing. The major cultivation season is known as ‘Maha’ which begins with the inter monsoonal rain around the month of October.
The rainy season commenced three months ago. It is known as ‘Vassana Kalo’ and it comes to an end with the Vap Poya and Katina season ushers in the Buddhist Calendar with the month of Vap, which is popularly known as “Cheevara Masaya”.
With the advent of “Cheevara Masaya-Katina” begins.
This marks the offering of the Katina Cheevara or new robes to Buddhist monks, who observed ‘Vas’-Rainy Retreat beginning from Esala to Vap. The presenting of Katina Cheevara is considered a meritorious deed for the Buddhist. Therefore, Vap Poya is very significant and important. The lay devotees, in procession, carry the Katina Cheevaraya to the temple.
The word ‘Katina’ means unbreakable. It is like a solid rock and the merit you gain cannot be shaken. The fact remains that Katina Cheevaraya (Katina Robe) is entitled only for those Bhikkhus who observed Vas or Rainy Retreat. During the period Vas the monks stay indoors and perform religious rites and concentrate on meditation and delivering sermons to the lay devotees.
It is believed that those persons who participate in Katina religious activities get so much of merit that they live a happy life in this world as well as once they cross the border.
The Sri Lankan history records that Great King Parakramabahu in Polonnaruwa period and the rulers of Dambadeniya period performed Katina Religions activities on a grand scale, with pomp and glamour during Vap.
During the Rainy season, or Vas season the Buddhist monks are restricted to remain indoors. They are restricted to their temples. They do not proceed on Pindapatha. The monks during this period depend on alms provided by lay devotees.
The appointment of Sariputta Maha Thera as the Chief Disciple of the Buddha took place on this important day of Vap Poya.
Further, on the Vap Poya day another significant event took place. The future Buddha to be-Maitriya Bodhisattva entered the Bhikkusasana on Vap.
It was on a Vap Poya Day that the King Devanampiyatissa officially sent a delegation to meet the Great Emperor Asoka as religious emissaries to India. The delegation was led by Prince Arritta. King Devanampiyatissa inquired from Venerable Mahinda Maha Thera, whether Buddhism has taken deep root in Sri Lanka. The monk replied it will be established firmly once a Sinhala child ordained. And this too happened on a Vap Poya Day.