Wednesday is the traditional Chinese “Laba Festival", celebrated on the 8th day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The event reminds people that the Spring Festival is just around the corner and is a day when eating porridge is not to be taken lightly.
The oldest temple in Beijing is embracing tradition by handing out free porridge. And despite the freezing temperature, crowds of people are swarming in, eager to sample the fare.
the 8th day of the last month of the Chinese lunar calendar：阴历腊月初八
hand out the free porridge：施粥
This porridge looks delicious. In China, it’s also called “eight-treasure porridge” as its ingredients include a nutritious mix ofglutinous rice, red beans and peanuts. Before it gets cold, let me have a try.
The traditional eight-treasure porridge has developed over the ages. The kind served here at the temple usually combines 13 different ingredients, based on the auspicious number inBuddhism. However, three more are suggested by Mr. Shen, a scholar of vegetarian culture from Taiwan.
glutinous rice 糯米，red bean 红豆，millet 小米，mung 绿豆，peanuts 花生，dried lotus seed 干莲子，dried date 干枣，almond 杏仁，oat 燕麦，buckwheat 荞麦
auspicious number in Buddhism：佛教中的幸运数字
"Tanzhe Temple invited me to consult them on vegetarian cooking. We add oats, wheat and buckwheat to make a healthier porridge, so followers will get more nutrition from it," scholar Shen Songmao said.
While some believe Laba porridge is related to sacrificial ritualsheld on this day by our ancestors, the temples have different versions. They say that enlightened Sakyamuni became Buddha on the eighth day of the last lunar month, or "Laba" in Chinese. Earlier, however, a shepherdess had saved him from fatigue and hungerwith a bowl of porridge. As time went by, the two celebrations were combined.
fatigue and hunger：饥困交加
fatigue：n. / vi. 疲劳，劳累
"I am a Buddhist. This morning I got up at five thirty and drove over 30 kilometers to get here. Besides being a tradition, it’s also a time to pray for blessings for family and friends."
However, most people crowding into the temple are not Buddhists, but simply visitors. They have travelled to the western suburbs of Beijing to take in the nice scenery, and of course the porridge.
"Three of my family members and my neighbors came together this morning. I want my son to experience the traditional celebration here. It’s also a blessing for the coming new year."
According to the organizer, they have been preparing for this event for a month. It has taken 10 hours to just to cook the porridge, all the ingredients donated by Buddhist followers.
pray for blessings：祈福
"We have cooked almost 30 big barrels of porridge for this Laba festival, not only for visitors. After this event here, we will take porridge to elderly people at nursing homes and give them blessings for the coming year," said Shao Xiguo, manager of Tanzhe Temple Admin Office.
A bowl of porridge stands for the benevolence of giving. And although it’s a thousand years old, this Chinese tradition is still going strong, bringing happiness in the form of tasty hot porridge during the chilly winter season.
chilly winter: 寒冬
The Laba Festival, the day in most parts of China have the custom of eating Laba porridge. Laba is a harvest year with eight fresh food and fruits boiled, usually for the sweet porridge. The Central Plains have many farmers prefer salty to eat Laba porridge, porridge in addition to rice, millet, mung bean, cowpea, peanut, jujube and other raw materials, but also add pork, radish, cabbage, vermicelli, seaweed, tofu and so on.
Laba Festival, the original ancient harvest celebrations, thanks to ancestors and gods (including the goalkeeper, household God, house of God, Kitchen God, well God) rituals, in addition to worship ancestors the activities, but also by people infected. This activity comes from the ancient Nuo (avoid the outbreak of the ancient ceremony of exorcism.) One way to prehistoric times, the exorcism of medical treatment illness. The activities of the twelfth lunar month as the witchcraft epidemic of custom drum drive, this and other areas in Hunan is still retained Xinhua. Later evolved into a commemoration of the Buddha Sakyamuni Road religious holiday. Xia said the December date, Ka-ping, Shang was clear Si, Zhou as big wax; due to be held in December, it said the month is the twelfth lunar month, known as La La at the festival that day. Pre wax at the third after the winter solstice Xu day fixed in the twelfth lunar month before the Northern and Southern started eighth day.
Said the text contains: Shu at December after the winter solstice festival three hundred gods. Visible, Shu third day after the winter solstice was December day. Buddhism after the intervention of the Prince at eighth day in December changed since then Xiangyan into the vulgar.