At the end of Thailand's rainy season — in New York and other less tropical climes, figure on mid-autumn — lay Buddhists pay their respects on the monks at the local temple.
They offer donations of food, as well as the saffron robes called kathin (sometimes, katin). "Royal" refers to a ceremony in which the monks' robes are presented by the King of Thailand or (the case in Elmhurst, Queens) his representative. After the laypeople queue up to offer rice to the monks, and after the monks are presented with their robes (inside the temple, where quarters are so tight I got no closer than the steps outside), everyone on hand is welcome to partake of a bountiful Thai buffet — free to all, in the spirit of the occasion. At Wat Buddhathai, that spirit is much more fellowship than food frenzy, even though many appetites were whetted, during the offering of rice, by the chop, chop, chop of blade on pork.
Royal Kathin celebration
Wat Buddha Thai Thavorn Vanaram
76-16 46th Ave., Elmhurst, Queens
Late October/early November