The picked-up robe offering ceremony is one of the big merits in Buddhism because it is Maha Sangha Dana – the donor offers to the monk without specifying. The Lord Buddha taught that Maha Sangha Dana had more fruits than the specified ones.
Moreover, the picked-up robe offering ceremony is not restricted to time. You can offer it anytime and the importance is that any temple can arrange the ceremony many times per year.
It sounds like we can make this kind of merit easily, but in fact it is not as it is the merit that can only be done in the Buddhist way.
If the Triple Gems did not exist, we would not have a chance to make the picked-up robes merit. Even if someone names a ceremony the picked-up robes, it is still not “the” picked-up robes. It is the misleading to the people who do not understand the full concept of the ceremony to believe and join in.
According to the history, picked-up robe ceremony has never been arranged in the early period of Buddha Time because the Lord Buddha did not allow the monks to receive saffron robes from any laypeople directly.
So the Buddhist monks had to search for the remnants of abandoned cloths from many places such as forests, savages, or shroud, etc. When they had enough cloths to make their saffron robes, they had to wash, dyed and sewed them up to make it into the robe by themselves. So it is not an easy task for the monks to get a new robe.
The first person who started the picked-up robe offering was very special because she was an angel in the Tavatimsa Heaven named “Angel Chalinee.”
The story is …One day, while Phra Anuruddha Thera who had the old saffron robe was searching for the remnants of cloths from the savages for his new one.
Angel Chalinee saw him and intended to offer three pieces of celestial cloths to him. Suddenly, she remembered that she could not offer to him directly as the Lord Buddha did not allow it.
So she placed the cloths on the savage along his way and made them easy to see. Phra Anuruddha Thera found these cloths and brought them back to make his new robes.
This was the beginning of the picked-up robes offering ceremony. Those who wanted to make merit in the Buddha Time followed the Angel Chalinee’s method. They intentionally left their cloths on the branches of trees, savages, forests, paths or anywhere they thought that the monks would walk pass and see it easily. They did it like their cloths were abandoned, so the monks could pick up to make the saffron robes. This kind of robes was called “Pha-Pa” as the monks picked them up from the forests or “Pha-bang-su-kul”, the dirty cloth (from dust).
Picked-Up Robes Offering Ceremony is a good chance for you to collect the big merit
The saffron robe is very important and necessary for all monks. To them it is the victory flag of Arahantship. The monks have to wear it for doing their monastic duties, self-development and so on through their lives to perfect themselves to become the ‘real monks’ in the Buddhist senses. Another important thing about the saffron robes is that it will be the last robe for everyone before reaching Nirvana.
So a good opportunity is coming your way in the near future to be able to make this merit of offering the victory flag of Aranantship to monks and gain countless merit in return.
Translated by Chadawee Chaipooripat
Edited by Merilyn Bretherick and Sunisa Clapin