Kathin Chibar Dana Festival to be celebrated in Rangamati

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chtnews.com
News No. 168/2010, November 17, 2010

The two-day thirty-seventh Kathin Chibar Dana, the biggest Buddhist religious festival in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, will begin tomorrow at Raj Bana Vihara in Rangamati.

The Raj Bana Vihara has chalked out a detailed programme to celebrate the festival.

The chief characteristic of the festival is to make a chibar or Buddhist robe within twenty-four hours through a process that includes spinning of thread from cotton, dying and drying of the yarn, weaving and sewing of the robe.

The robe is then offered to the Bhikkshu Sangha or the communion of monks.

This tradition of offering chibar to the Buddhist monks is thousands of years old, first introduced by Mahaposhika Bishaka, who made a robe within 24 hours in the same process and offered it to the Lord Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.

The tradition was lost in the abyss of time after the mahaparinirbana or great demise of the Buddha.

It was only in 1973 that the Great Bana Bhante (Sadhanananda Mahastabir), the most revered Buddhist monk in Bangladesh, revived it in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in its original form.

The robe making ceremony will be inaugurated by Rajmata Aroti Roy at 2:45pm on 18 November, and the robe will be offered to the Bhikkhu Sangha at 2:50pm the next day.

Bana Bhante will receive the chibar on behalf of the Bhikkhu Sangha.

Another chief feature of the Kathin Chibar Dana festival at Raj Bana Vihara is deshana or religious discourse by Bana Bhante.

He is expected to give his deshana at 10am and 4:40pm on 19 November.

Hundreds of thousands of people gather at Raj Bana Vihar every year during this festival to listen to his deshana.

The programmes also include accepting pancha sila or five precepts by volunteers, hoisting Buddhist flag, offering breakfast to the Vhikkhu Sangha, rendering religious songs, Sangha Dana (offering to the community of monks), Ashta Parishakar Dana or offering of eight essential elements to the monks, Pinda Dana or offering food alms to the monks, prayer for world peace, speech by senior vice president and general secretary of Vihar management committee, speech by Chakma Raja Debahish Roy, the chief patron of Raj Bana Vihar and pradeep puja or offering candlelight.

The Kathin Chibar Dana festival is celebrated after the end of a three-month long barsha basha or rainy season retreat of the Buddhist monks.

It is also celebrated in various Buddhist temples in Bangladesh as well as other Bana Viharas (Buddhsit temples established by Ven. Bana Bhante’s disciples) in Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Buddha Gaya in India.

This year the festival is being celebrated in the backdrop of an attack on Jumma villages in Sajek on 19 – 20 February and the destruction of several Kuhirs or meditation cottages a few days ago in Barkal.

The Sajek attack left at least four villagers dead and over four hundred Jumma houses and two Buddhist temples burnt.

Religious persecution is rampant in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, one of the highly militarized zones on earth, where an estimated 90,000 troops still remain deployed.

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