It was Arahat Ananda who designed the “Cheevara” for Buddhist monks. The Katina Cheevaraya is what is offered to monks soon after their retreat or “Vas “. It came about when Gautama Buddha, during one of his wanderings for the good of man, was passing through “Magade Desaya” with his pupil Arahat Ananda. Buddha spoke to Arahat Ananda and told him to keep in his memory the pattern of the rice fields beyond. It is also said that these fields belonged to King Suddhodana.
The Buddha then instructed them to refrain from travelling during the rainy season and to meditate. He said they should address the devotees for their deliverance whenever possible. There were also groups who were antagonistic to the Buddha and who criticized the travelling of his disciples during the rainy season. This led the Buddha to instruct monks to curtail their movements during the rainy season
The Buddha then advised Arahat Ananda to draw a plan for the “Cheevara” of the monks.
This is how the robes of monks are patterned. There was time when the robes of monks were made in a haphazard manner, from pieces of cloth taken from wrapped corpses and other available sources. However, Gauthama Buddha wanted his followers to have no lust even in the way of a robe. It was with this in mind that he found the answer to his thoughts by looking at the paddy fields in Magada Desaya.
This is the pattern in which all robes or Cheevarayas of monks are sewed. During Katina ceremonies in most temples in the deep villages of the Central Hills, they continue the practice of sewing the Katina robes in the temples before they are offered to the monks who have been in Vas or retreat for three months.
The greatest asset of a monk who has received Higher Ordination or Upasampada is the calling for Vas during his lifetime. King Rajadhi Rajasinghe is said to have offered Katina Cheevara during the entire period of Kingship. King Parakaramabahu VI of Kotte also did this.
It is considered the greatest asset to any man or woman who participates in the Katina ceremonies.
Devotees all over the country are now preparing to offer the Katina Cheevaraya to monks who have observed Vas before the dawn of Il Poya.
The observances began from Esala Poya. During this season, monks retreat to their temples or in the early days to forest caves to meditate. At the Aluvihare, some of the cave abodes could be seen to this day and they are in good condition.
In temples during this period, devotees arranged with monks to listen to sermons, sometimes daily in the evenings. Since last Saturday, Poya day, devotees in villages and urban communities prepared to offer the Katina Cheevara before Il Poya to the monks observing Vas during the
last three months.
Yet only one Katina Cheevaraya or robe could be offered at one temple, even if there were a number of monks who observed Vas during the season.
The offering of the robe is done by the devotees but whom the robe should be offered to is the decision of the congregation of monks. Professor Mohan Wijeratne in his book on the Buddha writes that the Katina is as ‘hard’ as a diamond. Vas originated with five monks who were on their way to meet Gautama Buddha, when just sixty kms away, they met with a heavy rain.
They then spent their time meditating. After the rains, they set about their objective of meeting the Buddha and told him of their experiences and how when travelling they would be trampling other lives, both plants and animals.
The Buddha then instructed them to refrain from travelling during the rainy season and to meditate. He said they should address the devotees for their deliverance whenever possible. There were also groups who were antagonistic to the Buddha and who criticized the travelling of his disciples during the rainy season.
This led the Buddha to instruct monks to curtail their movements during the rainy season. With this, the Buddha advised all monks to perform Vas during the rainy season. On the other hand, the monks who observed Vas prepared themselves for the offering of the Katina robe with the devotees. Should a monk fail to observe Vas on Esala Poya, he was entitled to observe Pasu Vas, after a day after Nikini poya, provided he retreated to the Poyage and went through the rituals carried out on Nikini Poya and then observed Vas the following day.
Offering of the Katina robe is the greatest merit of what is obtained out of the eight meritorious acts that had been declared by the Buddha. Once the Katina Cheevaraya is offered to the monks, it is not for the devotees to offer it to a particular monk. It is left to the congregation of the monks to offer it to the monks.
In the case of Katina at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Katina Cheevara traditions which were intiated on Saturday, October 22, were taken in procession to Asgiri Maha Vihare Poyage and presented with the rites to the particular monks that they have identified.
It is a rule that the Katina Cheevaraya is always besides the receiver and should touch the robe no sooner when he wakes in the morning. In this fashion there are a number of rites that should be observed by the receiving monk.
The Mahanayake of Asgiri Ven. Panditha Warakagoda Gnanaratne Thera and the four monks who are now in service of the Sri Dalada Maligawa observed Vas within the Sri Dalada Maligawa this year.
The ceremonies of the Katina Cheevaraya were headed by the ‘Mihininwansa’ Ven. Kotmale Suddharma Thera and