Hangzhou's Lingyin Temple starts to cook this year's Laba porridge today.
The Laba (Chinese: 腊八) Festival is celebrated on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. This year's Laba day falls on Jan 20. As all the Spring Festival preparations start from this day, it marks the beginning of the most important annual holiday season.
Across the country, people celebrate this day with a special food—Laba Zhou, a porridge made with various ingredients, such as rice, sticky rice, peanuts, red beans, lotus seeds, longans, red dates, candied dates, kidney beans, ginkgo and etc. Some people would even add some sugar sweet-scented osmanthus to it.
The temple usually starts to cook Laba Zhou from the first day of the 12th lunar month to give it away to the temple visitors for free. Some institutions and organizations also joined this charity fun. The amount of porridge distributed increases year by year. This year, over 300,000 bowls of Laba porridge are expected to be distributed.
The Lin Yin Temple has kept the tradition of distributing porridge for 14 consecutive years.
Due to the epidemic prevention, this year it will not distribute porridge at the temple. Instead, the porridge will be sent to assisted-living facilities, residential communities, long distance bus stations, major construction sites in Hangzhou, just to name a few.
The celebrating customs of the Laba Festival has been listed as an intangible cultural heritage in Zhejiang Province.