Description of Lao-Isan customs:
In the eleventh lunar month, the end of the Buddhist Vassa (ອອກວັດສາ ຫລື ອອກພິນສາ ຫລື ປະວາລະນາ) includes many important ceremonies: the torch lighting (lantern) ceremony; floating of the lit boats; boat racing to celebrate the Naga Kings' well-being; offering wax castles; offering monks' blankets, and beginning the Kathin ceremony.
Maha Sila Viravongs states that this ritual does not concern lay people. Later, Lao people adopted some Brahman rituals and included them into this ritual. In Brahmanism, the people would make floats and lanterns to worship Brahma, Vissanu, and Siva from the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month until the first waxing moon of the first lunar month. After that they would float all the floats and lanterns in the river for cleansing off their sins and misfortunes. Later, Lao people adopted all activities, changing the original purpose of the ritual to the worshipping of the Buddha and to thank the river goddess for providing water for human consumption. In Thailand, people include one more activity in this ritual; Devo Rohana offering food to monks, and listening to the Devo Rohana sermon.10
In the twelfth lunar month, Bun Kathin (ບຸນກະຖຶນ--offering of new monks' robes and other necessities) includes the following activities: offering new monks' robes, making wax castles, offering monks' robes in a symbolic forest; offering winter blankets to monks; and preparing popped new rice for monks. Besides bun kathin, Lao people also hold the worship of the Buddha's relics during this time. It was believed that after the Buddha's nirvana, his disciples took pilgrimage to various places in Asian to distribute the Buddha's relics in various temples. Each temple would build a stupa to contain the relics. In the twelfth Lunar month, people would hold a celebration to pay respects to the Buddha.
In the twelfth lunar month, people in Thailand include one more activity called the float festival or Loy Kathong Festival (ລອຍກະທງ--the floating of banana leaf floats with lit candles inside them in the river) in the twelfth lunar month.http://www.seasite.niu.edu/lao/LaoFolkL ... 7_text.htm
For the mythological history see:
The Buddha goes to spend the rains retreat in the Tavatimsa heaven in order to teach his motherhttp://www.budsir.org/E_hist63.htm
On the Great Invitation (pavarana) day, the Buddha descends from Tavatimsa heaven via stairways of jewels, gold and silverhttp://www.budsir.org/E_hist64.htm
The Buddha opens all the worlds, enabling the devas, hell beings and humans to see each otherhttp://www.budsir.org/E_hist65.htm Kathina (กฐิน)
In the first month after the end of the rains (Vassa) retreat a ceremony is performed by all the bhikkhus or bhikkhunis who spent the rains retreat together in one residence. This Kathina Ceremony involves receiving cloth, dying it, sewing it, and making it into a robe within one day. Before the day is out the Sangha gives that robe to one of its members. After this Kathina Ceremony has been performed the Sangha of that monastery receives five privileges. The five kathina privileges are:
1. Being able to go to a lay persons house without asking permission (Pac.No.85).
2. Being able to travel without taking all three robes robes (Nis.Pac.No.2).
3. Being able to take part in a group meal (Pac.No.32)
4. Being able to keep extra cloth without determining or sharing it (Nis.Pac.No.1)
5. Being entitled to a share of any cloth offered to the Sangha of the residence, during the period of
The kathina privileges can last up to five months after the end of the rains retreat if the bhikkhu or
bhikkhuni does not leave that residence to live in another residence and if the Sangha does not
revoke the privileges.
Kathina cloth is a bhikkhu's or bhikkhuni's share of cloth which has been offered to the Sangha of
a residence as in privilege number five above. Once a robe has been made from that cloth by a
bhikkhu or bhikkhuni it is said that `the kathina cloth has been finished.' (Nis.Pac.No.1)
Kāle dadanti sapaññā
Kālena dinnaṃ ariyesu
Vipulā hoti dakkhiṇā
Ye tattha anumodanti
Veyyāvaccaṃ karonti vā
Na tena dakkhiṇā onā
Tepi puññassa bhāgino
Tasmā dade appaṭivāna-citto
Yattha dinnaṃ mahapphalaṃ
Patiṭṭhā honti pāṇinanti.
Those with discernment,
responsive, free from stinginess,
give in the proper season.
Having given in the proper season
With hearts inspired by the Noble Ones
— straightened, Such —
Their offering bears an abundance.
Those who rejoice in that gift,
or give assistance,
They too have a share of the merit,
and the offering is not depleted by that.
Therefore, with an unhesitant mind,
one should give where the gift bears great fruit.
Merit is what establishes
living beings in the next life.
See also http://www.buddhamind.info/leftside/lif ... athina.htm
For more detail see http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch17.html
Interesting article by a Thai monk suggesting to move the Vassa to winter time in north America:http://what-buddha-said.net/drops/III/K ... remony.htm