Bendigo’s Buddhist monks and nuns have been given new robes and other gifts to celebrate the end of a three month seclusion.
Buddhist members of the Karen community hosted the annual “robe offering” festival on Saturday, as part of a celebration of the Kathina festival.
Dancing, food and prayers formed part of the celebrations, during which the community gives robes and money to Buddhist monks and nuns.
The festival marks the end of a three month retreat for Buddhist monks. It falls at the end of October or the start of November each year, following the end of the monsoon season in Asia.
Event organiser Ah Pay said the annual celebration was part of Buddhist culture and beliefs. The community had gathered because they wanted to celebrate the festival, the monks and the Buddha.
After the ceremony in which robes and gifts are presented the community prays.
Prayers are offered about the Kathina, and for peace in the next life.
This event everyone can enjoy, it doesn’t matter if you are not a Buddist, you can enjoy this event.Ah Pay
“We don’t want to suffer any more, we want peace in the next life,” Mr Pay said.
Karen Buddhists had come from as far away as Melbourne to join in Bendigo’s festivities. Mr Pay said everyone was welcome to join in.
“This event everyone can enjoy, it doesn’t matter if you are not a Buddhist, you can enjoy this event,” Ah Pay said.
More than 1,000 Karen people live in Bendigo today. Community members have been moving to the city since 2007.
Many fled violence in the Karen state in Myanmar and refugee camps in Thailand.
Karen community member Nay Chee said the Kathina celebrations were very significant event for Buddhists, and quite different from many of the community’s other ceremonies.
During the three months of the retreat Buddhist monks do not travel.
Robes, food and money are offered at the end of the monk’s seclusion.
“It’s a very significant event for the Buddhist Karen community,” Mr Chee said.
“It’s a time to come together as a community and pay respects to the Buddhist monks and the Buddha.”
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