Vas season or rain-retreat is the time frame or the period where the Buddhist monks remain indoors or in their monasteries for months, commencing from the Esala Full moon Poya day to Vap Full Moon Poya Day. The rainy season is for three months ago. It is called ‘Vassana Kalo’ and it ends with the
Vap Poya and the ‘Katina’ season begins with the month of Vap. This Poya is also known as ‘Cheevara Masaya’ or Month of robes. It marks the offering of ‘Katina cheevara’ or new robes to Bhikkhus who observed Vas season beginning on the Esala Poya (July) to Vap Poya (October). Accordingly, the ‘Katina’ period lasts from Vap Poya (October) to Ill Poya (November). The presentation of ‘Katina cheevara’ is a meritorious deed. ‘Katina cheevara’ are bought by
the laity and presented to the temple on the ‘Katina pinkama’ day. Before giving the ‘Katina cheevara’ to the temple, devotees carry it in a procession. The word ‘Katina means ‘unbreakable’. It is like a solid rock and the merit gained by offering robes to bhikkhus cannot be shaken.
During the ‘Vas’ period, Bhikkhus should stay indoors and perform religious activities such as conducting Dhamma sermons and meditation. During the Buddha’s time there were nearly 100 religions in India. Among them were Brahminism, Jainism, Achelaka, Paribrajaka, Thapasa, Jatila and Nigantha. The monks of these religions stayed indoors for three months from July to October due to heavy rains. They believed that the rainy period belonged to worms and plants. They thought that if they walked, the worms and plants would die. Staying indoors Thereafter, the Buddha too set an example by asking Bhikkhus to stay indoors during the ‘Vassana’ season. Religious activities conducted during the ‘Vassana’ season help to promote unity between Bhikkhus and laymen. Although Bhikkhus stayed indoors and ‘Katina’ pinkamas were conducted during the Buddha’s time, they did not receive new robes. They had to use white clothes that were used to wrap dead bodies. The clothes were cleaned and soaked in saffron coloured water before use. The Bhikkhu who uses the ‘Katina cheevara’ should use for at least for six months from October to March in the following year.
In Vinaya Parivara Pali states “Katinassa Attharamaso Janitabboti – Vassanassa Pacchimo Maso Janitabbo” which means – Be aware, it is the last month of the rainy season. It is also called the Katina Masaya – the month of “Katina Robe” which will be donated to the monks. There will be colourful processions in many parts of the island in the early morning in this month where the Katina Robe will be taken to their respective temples. The Buddhists believe that through offering of “Katina – Cheevara”, you accrue the highest merit. Offering of a “Katina Cheevara” is considered as a meritorious deed of a life time. It is believed that the merit you gain is solid like a rock, and the merit cannot be shaken. It should be mentioned here that the “Katina Cheevara”, or “Katina Robe” is exclusively offered for the monks who had observed Vas or Rain-Retreat. Those who have received “Upasampada” Higher Ordination
are only entitled, to observe Vas. They have the sole right to receive Katina Cheevara, on Vap Poya Day. It should be noted that Katina Robe can be made only with the completion of Sanghati (Sagala Siura), Uttarsangha (Single Robe), Antaravasaka (Andana Siura).
May all beings be well and happy & attain the fruits of Nibbana.