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You are here: Home > Chinese Festivals Calendars & Info > Other Festivals > Laba Festival

Laba Festival

Laba Festival is held on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month on the Chinese calendar. It is a festival that started as a sacrificial offering to ancestors. The Laba Festival was also a time for the ancient Chinese to pray to heaven and earth that there would be a bountiful harvest. Many people hoped for good luck as well for the coming year.

"La" is the name given to the 12th month and 8 is pronounced as "ba," which translated is "Laba."  Aside from being a day to sacrifice to ancestors, Laba has become a day of recognition when Sakyamuni became a Buddha. He is the founder of the Buddhism religion.

Origin of the Laba Festival

There is a legend of how the Laba Festival began, and it is centered around a hot porridge called Laba rice porridge. Supposedly Laba rice porridge was first concocted in India. Sakyamuni, the son of an Indian king in northern lands, became sorrowful as local people were suffering from sickness. They were under the rule of Brahman, which was one of four Indian societies. akyamuni descended from his high position in the kingdom so he could find enlightenment. He endured many years of self-torture, which made his way of life hard and uneasy. One day while sitting under a bodhi tree, the truth of Buddhism overcame Sakyamuni, which happened on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month. During the hard times that Sakyamuni had endured, the only thing he ate was rice. Today the Chinese eat Laba rice porridge on this day to honor Buddha.

Laba Rice Porridge

Laba rice porridge is made from a variety of rice, beans, dried nuts, bean curd, and meat. It was first originated in the Song Dynasty and became a steadfast part of the festival during the Qing Dynasty. People today are still eating the porridge on what is now called Laba Festival Day.

The Chinese have always placed importance on growing crops and reaping a bountiful harvest. One way they use to show appreciation to their ancestors for the good growing season is to sacrifice to them, along with prayers to heaven and earth. Making and eating the Laba rice porridge, which is combined with many things that come from their harvest, is one way they do this.

Laba porridge is very healthy. Some Chinese will add melon seeds, sugar, and fruit to give the porridge a sweeter taste. What they eat today is very different from what the ancient people ate, and it is said that there are over 100 different ways to make the porridge.

The porridge must be boiled for many hours and then offered as a sacrifice to the ancestors. This is done before noontime. It is tradition that family members eat the porridge together. They then leave some as a symbol of hope for a good harvest the coming year. Many Chinese will give porridge to the poor. It is believed that the porridge strengthens the spleen and soothes stress. It is a popular winter dish nowadays.

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