Kathin Chivar Dan

Kathin Chivar Dan a Buddhist ceremony when viksus are given chivar or professional cloth to wear. According to Buddhist belief, this is the best of all gifts.

Kathin Chivar Dan ceremony

Chivar, the cloth that viksus wear, may be of any six colours: those of a tree's roots, trunk, bark, dry leaves, fruit or flower. However, the viksu community prefer to wear cloth the colour of red flowers, as it is different from the cloth that ordinary people wear and also because it does not have attractive designs.

Before the introduction of kathin chivar dan, viksus used to wear pangsukulik chivar (soiled and torn cloth found at cremation sites). As this made the viksus susceptible to disease, Buddha allowed them, when they were having their monsoon rites, to wear chivar or clean cloth, gifted by their families. However, only those viksus who have completed the three-month cycle of monsoon rites may wear the chivar. The chivar dan ceremony is performed for a month following prabarana purnima until Kartik Purnima.

The ceremony is called kathin (difficult) because the entire process of making chivar-twisting yarn, weaving, cutting the cloth, sewing, dyeing, washing and drying-as well as distributing it among the viksus has to be completed within 24 hours, from one sunrise to the next. There are some other rituals, which are difficult to perform both for those who make the gift and those who accept it. This is why it is called Kathin Chivar Dan (difficult chivar gift).

According to the Buddhist scripture, the spiritual benefits of kathin chivar dan far surpass all others, and extend to succeeding generations.

The chivar dan ceremony is held at every vihara annually. On this occasion Buddhist families make gifts of cloth to viksus amidst great enthusiasm and religious fervour. The viksus accept these gifts in keeping with the prescribed rites. In view of the multi-faceted benefits of kathin chivar dan, all Buddhists cherish the desire to make this gift at least once in their lifetime. [Sukomal Barua]