Laba Festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. La in Chinese means the 12th lunar month and ba means eight. The majority Han Chinese have long followed the tradition of eating Laba rice porridge on that day since Song dynasty about 900 years ago.
Legends about the origin of this festivity abound. The most popular one is that Sakyamuni, the first Buddha and founder of Buddhism, attained enlightenment on the eighth day of the twelfth month. Sutras were chanted in the temples and rice porridge with beans, nuts and dried fruit was prepared for the Buddha. With the passing of time the custom extended, especially in rural areas where peasants would pray for a plentiful harvest in this way.
Nowadays, large Buddhism temples still offer it to Buddhists to show their faith to Buddha on laba.
Laba porridge is made with local specialties. In different regions there are different ingredients in addition to the rice. Actually eight ingredients (or more) are used, cooked with sugar (or salt).
Here is one classic recipe.
- 1 cup of rice or glutinous rice;
- red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas, dried lotus seeds, red beans, dried dates, walnut meat each 1/10 cup(if you can not find these ingredients you can use other nuts, dried fruits and beans instead);
- Sugar (crystal sugar is better);
- 10 cups of water.
1. Before cooking, clean rice and eight ingredients and dip them separately in cold water for 5 hours;
2. Put rice and eight ingredients into a deep pot;
3. Add 10 cups of water and sugar;
4. Turn on the fire and make sure the flame is high, put the lid on;
5. When it is boiled, turn down the fire and take off the lid;
6. Let the porridge simmer until it begins to emit a very delicious smell, add some sugar you’d like;
7. Turn off the fire when porridge becomes sticky.
Laba porridge is not only easy to prepare, but also a nutritious winter food because it contains amino acids, protein and other vitamins people need. Cooked nuts and dried fruit are good for smoothing nerves, nourishing one’s heart and vitality, and strengthening the spleen. Enjoy!
là bā jié
腊 八 节 Laba Festival n.
là bā zhōu
腊 八 粥 Laba rice porridge n.
粟 米 Millet n.
高 梁 Chinese sorghum n.
豌 豆 Peas n.
莲 子 Dried lotus seeds n.
大 枣 Dried dates n.
hé táo rén
核 桃 仁 walnut meat n.