THE Wat Phra Dhammakaya Buddhist temple in Knaphill opened its meditation garden recently, coinciding with a day-long Kathina robe-offering ceremony. The garden is open to anyone seeking a calm place for contemplation.

The festival of Kathina is an opportunity for the lay community of Buddhists to give thanks to monks and nuns and occurs at the end of Vassa, the rainy season which lasts for about three months in most South Asian countries.

Vassa is often seen as the Buddhist equivalent of Lent, and ends around October and November. It was traditionally celebrated by local people donating cloth and robes to monks who had been unable to travel during the rainy season.

The traditional donations are now reflected in an alms-giving ceremony.