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Laba Festival celebrated in Beijing

January 22, 2010 is the eighth day of the 12th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It is called Laba Festival. La, in Chinese, means the last lunar month and ba means eight. It is the traditional start of celebrations for the Lunar New Year.

It is 8:30 in the moring. There are a lot of people queuing up here for the free porridge already.

It is believed that Laba Porridge could bring people good fortune and envisions a plentiful harvest in the next year. And it is also very nutrisious. It must feel really great to have something sweet and warn in such a freezing day.

Laba Porridge is usually made with rice, red beans, nuts and dried fruits. And the porridge served here by Yonghegong Lama Temple contains up to 30 kinds of ingredients. The flavor is really rich!

Legends about the origin of Laba Festival abound. It is believed when Sakyamuni was on his quest for enlightenment, he grew hungry and exhausted and passed out by a river in India. A shepherdess found him and fed him with her lunch-porridge made with rice and beans.

Thus Sakyamuni was able to continue his journey and attained enlightenment and became Buddha on the eighth day of the last lunar month.

Ever since, monks and lamas have prepared rice porridge on the eve and held a ceremony the following day, during which they chant sutras and offer porridge to Buddha, showing faith to the religion.

Story & Editor: Huang Lan

Video: Lou Yi

Editor: Feng Hui

New Year Customs

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