What is the schedule going to be for the day?
10am ~ Arrive & Optional Tour of Vihara Improvements
11am ~ *Meal Offering (bring a ready-to-serve vegetarian dish to share)
1-3 pm ~ Kathina Ceremony & Dhamma Reflections
*For more information about the meal offering, please see the section below.
Plenty of time to walk around the land and enjoy its beauty!
How do I get to Aloka Vihara?
The ceremony will be held at the at the Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery, 2409 Tolowa Trail, Placerville, CA 95667. For directions, click here.
Can I get a ride to Aloka Vihara?
Our wish is that anyone who would like to attend the Kathina Ceremony would have transportation to do so. We’d also like to encourage carpooling as much as possible. If you are able to offer a ride or would like to request a ride, we’ll be setting up a carpool page on the groupcarpool.com website soon to facilitate this.
Can I sleep over at the vihara the night of the Kathina Ceremony?
There is no overnight accommodation available at the vihara for this event, but all friends and newcomers are invited to come for a day visit and participate in this joyous and meritorious event!
There is information on the Aloka Vihara website about camping, motels and B&Bs in the area.
Will there be room to park my car?
Parking spaces at the vihara will be reserved for monastics and people with limited mobility. There will be parking available at Miraflores Winery with a shuttle service to and from Aloka Vihara (Miraflores is a 5-minute drive from the monastery). If you would like to help with parking the day of, or help with the shuttle please contact Julie.
Will there be zafus and chairs available?
There will be chairs and some zafus available. You are also welcome to bring your own zafu, if you like. If you have some that you could lend us for the day, please bring them along.
How can I help?
Plenty of help will be needed, particularly on the day of the event with set up and clean up. Be in touch with Susan and Julie for more information about the event or helping out.
If you can’t come to the Kathina Ceremony the day of and would still like to help or contribute, send us an email.
You can also help by getting the word out about the event! Click on two flyer styles below to print and post at your local sangha or share with friends. You can also share it electronically in a sangha newsletter or on social media. If you can’t come in person, perhaps your local sangha would like to dedicate an evening’s dana to support a monastery for women.
How does the meal offering work?
Meal offerings at kathinas and other big celebrations at Aloka Vihara in general are big, rambling AWESOME potlucks, full of good food made with lots of love. The mid-day meal is the main meal of the day for the monastic residents who do not eat again until breakfast the next morning. Everyone attending the event is invited to bring a ready-to-serve vegetarian dish to share.
Traditionally, the monastics are offered the meal first. Each item on the table is offered individually to the monastic “receiving“ the meal. The monastics then proceed to collect their meal for the day, after which they offer a blessing. Then the laypeople serve themselves.
If you have any questions about the food, please contact Julie.
Will financial donations from this year’s Kathina support a specific project at the monastery?
With current building projects now funded, Kathina contributions this year will provide for the basic requisites of Aloka Vihara’s bhikkhunis, samaneris and anagarikas, allowing for the continued growth and flourishing of this vital Dhamma community. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
Will there be a monastery wish list this year?
Yes. The monastery wish list can be found here.
What is the rice pindapata?
This is a symbolic offering of the meal by putting rice directly into the nuns’ alms-bowls ~ cooked rice will be made available for all to offer. After the rice pindapata the monastic sangha will receive the main meal dishes, which will be shared with all.
Will there be a money tree?
Yes! A money tree is a traditional way of supporting monasteries and one was made for the Almsgiving Ceremony a couple of years ago.
I can’t make the Kathina Ceremony this year. Will there be one next year?
If someone steps forward to offer the cloth, then it will happen. Interested? Get in touch with us. Friends of Aloka Vihara is available to help with organization and logistics if necessary.
Will there be sangha dana?
Another tradition we would like to include in this year’s Kathina Ceremony are gifts that are given to all the monastics present at the ceremony. If you are interested in contributing to this offering or helping to organize it, please contact Susan and Julie.
How can my local sangha help?
If you feel that supporting the right of women to have equal access on the monastic path is important, please consider organizing an event in your local sangha in support of Aloka Vihara. It can be as simple as dedicating the dana from one of your Sangha’s sits to the support of Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery. If you would like some ideas on how to do this, please contact Emily.
What is the difference between a Kathina and the Almsgiving Ceremony that was held at Aloka Vihara last year?
A Kathina (robe offering ceremony) is a traditional Buddhist ceremony that allows lay supporters to express their support and gratitude toward the monastery and its monastics, through meritorious acts of generosity (monetary and/or material donations to the monastery). It is particularly important and auspicious that we are supporting Bhikkhunis on this day and supporting the right of women to have equal access on the monastic path.
Typically, the sponsors of the ceremony offer a single robe as a symbol of the lay community’s support of the monastic way of life. A Kathina Ceremony celebrates the sublime virtue of ‘dana’ (generosity) and the symbiotic relationship between monastics and lay people, with the laity supporting the material needs of the monastics, and the monastics supporting the spiritual needs of the lay people.
The intention of both the Kathina and the Almsgiving Ceremony is the same: an opportunity for lay people to offer financial and material support to monastics in a formal way.
An Almsgiving Ceremony can be offered at any time of the year, while the Kathina can only happen during the month following the Vassa or “Rains” retreat. For a ‘Kathina [cloth] to be spread’ (i.e., for the cloth to be spread in order to be sewn into a robe) there has to be at least one bhikkhuni resident in the monastery throughout the Vassa and a minimum of five bhikkhunis must be present for the Kathina Ceremony.
Once the Kathina cloth is offered, it must be sewn into a robe and formally offered to one of the bhikkhunis who has been resident throughout the Vassa. This entire process must be completed before dawn of the day following the ceremony.
The Kathina Ceremony takes place within 4 weeks of the completion of the Vassa (“Rains” retreat). It doesn’t rain in California like it did in India in the time of the Buddha, but the Vassa is observed during the summer months here in any case, with the Kathina or Almsgiving Ceremony held sometime in the fall.
What is the history of the Kathina ceremony?
How the Kathina Ceremony came about is recorded in the Mahavagga, the third book of the Vinaya Pitaka (Vin III. 351ff). For those of you who are interested in the story behind the Kathina/Almsgiving ceremony, here are some resources we have found helpful:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/kathina.pdf (has the most complete information)
What is “giving the cloth” all about?
A piece of cloth is offered to a member of the monastic sangha for making a robe. This cloth is traditionally the central item offered at a Kathina. The cloth is at least 10 feet in length, enough for a lower robe, but more can be offered. This year a thin cotton material for hot weather is needed. It can be bought in any cloth shop that has the right color and quality. An item is sewn from the cloth on the day of the Kathina and must be finished by dawn next day.
There can also be other gifts offered, including items from the monastery’s wish list, financial contributions or anything else people would like to give. With current building projects now funded, financial contributions made at this year’s Kathina will provide for the basic requisites of Aloka Vihara’s bhikkhunis, samaneris and anagarikas, allowing for the continued growth and flourishing of this vital Dhamma community. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.