As the monsoons in Thailand retreat, monks are free to move from place to place and are allowed to receive new robes in a presentation ceremony called Thot Kathin. Besides robes, kitchen equipment, financial contribution, building material and Buddhist literature is also presented at Thot Kathin. This presentation ceremony is an annual one.
In Thai language Thot means making an offering to a monk and Kathin means embroidery frame. In the old days, rags were collected from dead bodies in the jungle and the embroidery frame was used to sew the yellow robes which monks wear.
In Thailand, Buddhist people believe the Thot Kathin ceremony as the most significant form of merit making next to ordination of a close kin. Therefore, once in a lifetime every Thai Buddhist looks for an opportunity to sponsor the Kathin ceremony which involves a lot of time, money and efforts. However, an advance booking has to be made with the temple otherwise the chances to be the sole sponsor for the Kathin ceremony will not be possible. However, those who can not be sole sponsors can take part in a ceremony known as Kathin Samakki or United Kathin.
People taking part in Kathin ceremony are known to travel hundreds of kilometers by bus, train, boat and planes to present new robes and other gifts to monks in remote corners of Thailand or other countries where Buddhist temples are present. People use this opportunity to earn merit for themselves and enjoy a holiday away from the humdrum of their regular lives.
In Thailand during the Thot Kathin period, one can see processions traveling all over the country. Any and everyone is welcome to take part in the procession. All one has to do is enclose a small amount of money in a white envelope to qualify.