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BEIJING -- Buddhist temples across China gave out free porridge Wednesday to celebrate the Laba Festival.
"Laba" literally means the eighth day of the 12th lunar month. The Laba Festival is considered a prelude to the Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 16 this year.
The Laba Festival is an important holiday in Buddhism. Many temples offer porridge to the public to commemorate the Buddha and deliver his blessings.
Laba porridge is made from glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas, dried lotus seeds, red beans and other ingredients.
In Beijing, people began to line up for porridge at 3 a.m. at Yonghegong Lama Temple. Elderly residents said they wanted to take a portion for their children because it will bring health and good luck for the coming year.
Monks at Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, prepared 300,000 servings of Laba porridge, using 50 tonnes of ingredients. More than 200 volunteers helped hand out the porridge to homes of the elderly, elementary schools and members of the public on Wednesday.
"We selected the best ingredients. The peanuts should all be red-skinned and the ginkgo should be fresh. We began preparation a month ago," said Master Shengwen at the Lingyin temple.
Chefs at Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Shaolin Kung Fu in Henan Province, used a specially concocted herbal brew to cook the porridge. The temple also drew a large crowd on Wednesday.
Ci"en Temple in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning Province, brought thousands of servings of Laba porridge to sanitation workers. Calligraphers also inscribed couplets for the people.