Houston Buddhist Vihare Celebrated Katina Pinkama

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By Chiranjaya Nanayakkara

HOUSTON: This year the Houston Buddhist Vihare held the celebration of ‘Katina Pinkama’ on two consecutive days – October 18 and October 19, at the Temple located at 8727 Radio Road, Houston, TX 77075, with the participation of twenty monks from various parts of the country and, well over five hundred Buddhist devotees from Houston and other cities of Texas.

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The ceremonies started on Saturday evening with Buddhist Monks chanting ‘Pririt’ (blessings) throughout the night. The next day, early morning around 7:30 a.m., the monks were offered ‘Heel Dana’ (breakfast) prepared by the devotees. The monks walked slowly and silently in line, with their ‘Pathra’ (bowl) held out and, the devotees placed the ‘Heel Dana’ (breakfast) into the monks’ ‘Pathra’ as they passed by. The day was then filled with ‘Bana’ (Sermons) from various monks, addressed to all the adults and children present, and this went on until the time came for Dana (Lunch) which, again, was prepared by the devotees and offered to the monks.

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After the afternoon Dana, the Buddhist devotees organized a ‘Perehara’ (parade) where they brought offerings to the monks, while traditional dancers danced to the rhythmic, hypnotic beat of the drums. The dancing was presented by the second generation of Houstonians who enthralled the spectators with their beautiful dancing. They had been trained by Mr. Suren Lewkebandara and Mrs. Ritani Rathnapala.

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Resident monks of Houston Buddhist with the assistance of the Houston Buddhist Vihare devotees, was instrumental in organizing the colorful ‘Katina Pinkama’ festivities and ensuring that they adhered as closely as possible to the Buddhist traditions practiced in Sri-Lanka, India, Burma, Vietnam and elsewhere in the world.

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While the entire Buddhist Community pitched-in through various means and ways for the success of the ‘Katina Pinkama’, usually, one family is charged each year with the main responsibility of providing the ‘Dana’ and other Offerings to the monks. This year the responsibility of the ‘Pinkama’ was carried out by Mr. and Mrs. Sumith and Sandya Jayasuriya, together with the Houston Buddhist Vihare and the Buddhist community of Houston.

Katina-Vap (October) Full Moon ‘Poya’ day is of special significance to Buddhists because of ‘Katina Pinkama’. In the month of ‘Vap’, Gautama Buddha is said to have completed three months of the ‘Vas’ period (rainy period). In other words, it signifies the completion of the rainy season, so that the Buddhist monks can once again step out of the temples and go forth to preach the teachings of Buddha as well as obtain offerings, which often include food, clothing and monetary donations.