Our relationships with others are some of the most valuable parts of life. Building relationships with our loved ones as well as coworkers and others in our community is an important piece in personal happiness. The long, white (or gold) scarves called kata are one of the most recognizable symbols of Tibet. Kata are given in both formal and informal situations, presented to clergy in a religious setting as well as given to one’s own family at a birthday party. When a kata is offered in a religious setting, you would offer your kata with your arms outstretched, the fingers and thumbs of your two hands meeting in a show of respect, the kata is draped over your hands or wrists. The monk, nun, or lama would then take the kata, bless it, and return it to you. When giving kata in a more informal situation, the giver drapes the kata the recipient’s neck and verbally wishes the recipient good luck (with a new job, in the new year, etc). Kata are generally kept by the recipient if given by a religious figure, if it was given at a special time, or if it is given by someone who is special to you.
Kata are given to celebrate a marriage, a new job, a new business, a new home, birthdays, when someone is leaving or returning from a trip, upon the birth of a child, as comfort and respect to someone upon the passing of their loved one. Kata symbolizes the giver’s good wishes for the recipient. Kata are also a symbol of the value you place on the relationship you share with someone. My family keeps a drawer filled with kata to celebrate the good things happening in the lives of friends and acquaintances, as a beginning or end of the year gift for our children’s teachers, and as a way to say hello or goodbye to visitors. Check out the selection of kata at Hands of Tibet and start the New Year off with a new tradition of giving kata!