Earlier this month, the North Texas Thai community gathered in unity, many wearing traditional national costumes but all wearing protective masks, at Wat Dallas for an annual fundraising event that has had special significance this year. Despite the changes forced by COVID-19, including fewer people (around 100 instead of the usual 500 plus), the ceremony generated more donations for the Dallas Buddhist Temple than in the past.
“The Royal Kathina is the greatest honor one can get to present the royal robe blessed at the royal temples of Thailand by King Rama X,” said Nikky Phinyawatana, head / owner of Asian Mint, whose family has was chosen to chair the event. “It’s a once in a lifetime honor that not everyone gets.”
The word “kathina” translates to the wooden frame used to stretch a piece of fabric before sewing it into a new dress. The ceremony itself, according to the book Kathina yesterday and today, by Aggacitta Bhikkhu, is an international celebration in which the Buddhist community of monks, nuns, novices and laity come together to participate in meritorious activities every year after the rainy season in Thailand, observed as Vassa (often called Buddhist Lent). “Over the centuries, the way of conducting the ceremony has changed with local interpretations, practices and customs,” Bhikkhu wrote.
“The ceremony begins with a morning song from the monks. Then the monks are offered lunch by those who brought the food, ”says Phinyawatana, whose restaurant staff were on hand to distribute packed lunches. In the afternoon, the royal robe is displayed in front of a portrait of King Rama X.
At the ceremony in Dallas, all participants rose to celebrate the royal hymn before Phinyawatana wears the royal robe in the temple hall and offers it to the chief monk.
“This robe is then blessed by the monks and the chief monk will change into this robe,” she said. , toilet paper, paper towels, utensils, water, soap and medicine. These items often represent the safety and security of daily livelihoods.
For this year’s Kathina event at the Dallas Temple, precautions were taken to maximize the safety of everyone in attendance, including limiting capacity, changing the way food was served, and modifying the event to that it can take place mainly outdoors.
“This event has been supported for the past three years – an 18-year continuous ceremony – by the Thai restaurant owners of Asian Mint Restaurant Group, Best Thai Signature, Best Thai Restaurant Group and Too Thai. These funds are used to pay for utilities and temple maintenance, ”says Phinyawatana.
“With the closing of the Sunday food stalls, less funds were raised. We were on our way to the tornado that went through last year, the same one that destroyed Home Depot on Forest and 75. The temple is right behind, on Stults and Forest Lane. All the large trees were smashed and a large piece of wood pierced the roof of the cultural center. It could not be repaired because asbestos was found, and therefore it had to be demolished, “she said.” We need funds to rebuild a new cultural center, which serves as a resource for everyone. interested in learning thai culture, language, music, traditions and dance. Like any religious center, it is the place that offers a sense of community, connection and love. Thais come from the “Land of Smiles” and it resonates with a “give first and always share” mentality.
When COVID-19 allows, the Dallas Buddhist Temple will resume free meditation sessions for anyone interested. Donations can be made to support the rebuilding of the cultural center and other temple programs and services through Facebook.