Significance of Katina
The rainy season commenced three months ago with Esala - “Vassana Kalo”. It comes to an end, with the Vap Poya. Katina season ushers in the Buddhist Calendar with Vap, which is popularly known as Cheevara Masaya.
Vap poya marks the offering of the Katina Cheevara or new robes to Buddhist monks, who observed “Vas” - Rainy Retreat, beginning from Esala to Vap.
Katina - Cheevara Pooja, the noble meritorious deed is considered as the most sacred wholesome act a Buddhist can perform. It is known as the ‘Great Eight Merits or Ata - Kusal. The word Katina means unbreakable. It is believed that those who participate in Katina Religious Activities obtain much merit and they live a happy life in this world as well as in the other world once you depart.
It was on Vap Full Moon Poya Day the Buddha visited the heavenly abode of TAVATIMSA. He spend seventh rainy season since HIS enlightenment. In this heavenly abode He preached Abidhamma to the Devas of that celestial plane, which resulted in the elevation of Matru Deva (Mother Deity) to the attain Sotapanna and Eighty crores of Devas to various stage of Sainthood. Eventually, HE terminated his retreat in order to descend near the city gate of Sankassapura. He informed his arrival through Arahat Moggallana who paid him visit seven days before.
Vap poya is of great significance for yet another reason. Throughout in our cherished history, Buddhist celebrated Vap in a grand scale. Temples in Sri Lanka will be filled to the capacity. They are involved in Dana, Seela, Bhavana and thereby they accumulate Merit.
Buddhist history reveals another important landmark which was woven with Vap Full Moon Poya Day.
This sacred event occurred during the following month, November - IL. The future Buddha, Maitriya Bodhisatva, entered the order with a retinue of 500 followers on the Vap Full Moon Poya Day.
Order of Bhikkunis
Further, Vap, Poya paved way for the arrival of Sangamitta Theri. The advent of Buddhism, took place with advent of. “Dhammarajassa Savaka” Arahat Mahinda Thera.
King Devanampiyatissa’s sister in law Anula, was very keen to enter the Order of Bhikkunis. Therefore The King made a request to Emperor Asoka to send Sanghamitta Theri.
It is clear as crystal, Sri Lanka and India had very cordial friendly Diplomatic Relationships, even at that time.
It was on Vap Poya Full Moon Day Devanampiyatissa, send Minister Maha Aritta, a close relation of the Devanampiyatissa to India, for this mission.
This resulted in the arrival of Sangamitta during the Unduvap Poya which fell on the month of December.
It records the establishment of Bhikkuni Sasanaya in Sri Lanka. Sangamittas brought a token of gift the Bo - Sapling of Jayasri Maha Bodhiya to Sri Lanka.
The Great King Devanapiyatissa who propagated Buddhism questioned Arahat Mahinda whether Buddhism firmly rooted in Sri Lanka.
Arahat Mahinda stated “Dear King, until such time a person born and bred in Sri Lanka enter the order, holds a Dhamma Sangayanawa, and after complete a thorough study of Vinaya Rules relating to Dhamma, then only Buddhism will be firmly established throughout Sri Lanka”.
According to chronicles, this was fulfilled by Minister Aritta, who entered the order. Therefore, the establishment of Buddhism on a solid firm footing took place on Vap Full Moon Poya Day.
Buddhism is a plan for living in such a way as to derive higher benefit from Life. It is a religion of wisdom, where knowledge and intelligence predominate. The Buddha did not preach to win converts but to enlighten listners.