The kathin presentation, which is made annually at the close of phansa, constitutes one of the major contributions received by any monastic community. The practice of offering kathin in Theravada Buddhist countries at the present time consists in essence of giving new robes to the bhikkhus who are coming out of retreat at the end of the rainy season However, the three sets of robes customarily presented are usually accompanied by gifts of durable goods, furniture, crockery, altar tables and so on, and by a sum of money which varies in size according to the capacity of the contributors. Both the money and the goods presented at the ceremony known as Thot Kathin become the property of the monastic community as a whole but the monastic community allots it to individual monks by the procedure of Kran Kathin.
Householders wishing to Thot Kathin must do so during the next lunar month after the end of the Buddhist Lent (phansa), that is to say, between the full moons of October and November. Kathin robes can only be taken to a monastery where there are at least five monks, all of whom have ‘observed lent’ (cham phansa) by spending the entire season at that mat. Every monastery receives a kathin presentation each year provided that there is a sufficient number of eligible monks in residence, but each monastic community may only receive one such offering in any one year.
The layman who intends to mobilize a group of householders to offer kathin visits the abbot of the monastery of his choice at some time towards the end of phansa. An appointment is then made for the presentation of kathin at some future date during the stipulated month, provided that the privilege has not already been granted to another group.
Photo: Kathin ceremony 2010, Wat Phra Dhammakaya Sydney
Texts taken from Page 113-114
Bunnag, J. (1973). Buddhist monk, Buddhist layman : a study of urban monastic organization in central Thailand. Cambridge [Eng.] :, University Press.