Katina Festival (Frock offering festival of Khmer people) is one of the most famous folk festivals in Soc Trang Province. It is organized for 1 month, after three-month period relaxing and training of monks. It starts from 15th September to 15th October of the lunar calendar. Its purpose is showing the gratitude of Buddhists to Buddha and monks and praying for peace and happiness of villages.
First, we need to understand the origin of this festival. Once upon a time, Buddha stayed at Jetavana pagoda of a local influential rich man named Anatapindika near Savatthi area. At that time, a 30-monk group came to ask Buddha for relaxing at Jetavana pagoda and Buddha agreed. Because of the far and bad road, the rainy season, when the monk group arrives, the clothes were wet and torn to piece.
After three-month period relaxing and training of monks, Buddha allowed the group stays some time to make the new clothes. It was this time, Lady Visakha, a big helper to monks, first offered Buddh. Since then, the tradition offering to groups of monks in the first month after finishing the three-month relaxing period has carried out. Depending on the condition of each pagoda, the festival days in the month are different.
Soc Trang is the place which has the most Buddhists in Mekong Delta. Therefore, Katina Festival is held solemnly here. Katina Festival of Khmer people in the big pagodas in Soc Trang Province usually happens 2 days. The first day occurs at the pagodas. The monks read a prayer to pray for peace and happiness of villages. The second day, Buddhists hold a welcome ceremony around villages and main worshiping apartments to show their sincerely reverent before offering the frocks to monks. The traditional art kinds such as ro-bam, du-ke and so on are performed in a welcome ceremony. At night, the pagodas always have art activities to serve Buddhists and the people in the villages. People have a chance to relax and have fun.
If there a chance to come to Soc Trang in September and October, do not forget this famous festival.
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