Kathin is a Pali word for the wooden frame used to measure length and width by which the robes of Buddhist monks are cut, approximately 2 - by 1- meters (originally five by three sok, or 2.5 by 1.5 metres), hence called kathin robe. In the olden times, monks would make kathin robes by themselves by sewing together pieces of discarded cloth and dying it. More recently, kathin robes are sold ready-made. It has become a tradition to present monks with kathin robes upon the ending of the Buddhist Lent, during which monks are staying inside their temple compound. During a period of four weeks, starting upon the first night of the waning moon of the 11th month and ending with the first night of the waning moon of the 12th month. According to Dhamma precepts, any disciplined monk with older robes than others would be chosen by the monk assembly to receive presents of kathin robes. Following tradition, Buddhist believers would place kathin robes before the monks citing the Pali words of offering. This rite is known as Thot Kathin.
There are two kinds of Thot Kathin, the Royal Thot Kathin and the Thot Kathin performed by the general public.
The Royal Thot Kathin refers to the ceremony during which the king himself or, by royal command, members of the Royal Family present monks in temples under royal patronage with robes and gifts.
Thot Kathin by the general public are events in temples other thanthose under royal patronage, at which people present the monks in residence with robes and gifts.
Earlier in the Rattanakosin Period, the Royal Thot Kathin Ceremony had been held during the period between the 6th and 9th nights of the waning moon in the 11th month,each year, especially at the 9th waning moon when the river banks would be flooded. That is the time suitable for the Royal Barge Procession.
Nowadays, the King would proceed to officiate at the Royal Thot Kathin Ceremonies at 16 prominent temples under royal patronage as well as at the resident temple of Somdet Phra Sangkharat, the Supreme Patriarch. To the other temples under royal patronage throughout the country, the King would graciously delegate the responsibility for Thot Kathin to government agencies and the private sector. This is known as Kathin Phra Ratchathan, the Royally Conferred Kathin. This ceremony is conducted as prescribed by rules and regulations and supervised by the Department of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Culture, Royal Thai Government.
Taken from: Thailand: Traits and Treasures. The National Identity Board, Royal Thai Government 2005.
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