End of the Rain Retreat attracts more than 500 people to Ilford

More than 500 people attended the Buddhist temple in Ilford on Sunday to mark the end of the three month Rain Retreat.

Ten monks at the Redbridge Buddhist Cultural Centre, Balfour Road received special robes and gifts from devotees.

During the Rain Retreat period, monks rarely left their homes so they could focus on learning and teaching.

Venerable Homagama Dhammanada said: “The Buddhist monks have observed three months of the Rain Retreat and in that they are concerned about their spiritual development.”

The end of the period was marked with a ceremony during which robes were presented to the monks as well as household items.

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Mr Dhammanada said: “The devotees offer the monks robes during the Katina ceremony.

“Katina means solid, unshakable and firm.

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“One monk is chosen to receive the special Katina robe.

“Monks have to be absolutely disciplined to take that special robe.”

According to Buddha’s teachings, monks should not travel during the rainy season in case they unintentionally harm crops or insects.

After the season, Buddha rewarded the monks by showing generosity by giving them cloth donated by devotees.

Mr Dhammanada said: “People come and learn about the ceremony and how it started in Buddha’s time.

“They also offer food, called dana and all people are served food.

“Devotees bring anything the temple needs.”

At the end of the three month period the monks are allowed to travel again and the last day of the retreat is called Awk Phansa which means leaving the Rains retreat.

“During the period they are more concerned about their spiritual development, meditating and giving sermons. “People come to the temple and listen to sermons and chanting.”

The end of the three months is determined by the full moon and on the last day monks share what they have learnt.

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