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腊八The Laba Festival

(2010-05-04 16:48:29)


分类: Chineseculture
腊八The Laba Festival




Traditionally, the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month is the Laba Festival, which is well-known as a celebration of the day when Buddha achieved supreme enlightenment.




Originally, La referred to the sacrificial rites held in the twelfth lunar month when people stopped their yearly farm work and offered preys (the Chinese characters for prey and La were interchangeable then) to their ancestors, showing their gratitude and asking for blessings. According to Shiji( Historical Records) and Zouzhuan (Zuo’s Commentary) this custom of holding sacrificial rites in the twelfth lunar month took shape far back in the Zhou Dynasty (1046BC-221BC).




At that time the twelfth month was called the month of La because of the ceremony held then. “Lari” namely “Laba”, however, was perhaps not decided yet. It seemed inappropriate to define the twelfth month or the ceremony held then as “Lari”. In the Han Dynasty(206BC---220AD), “Lari” fell on the day three weeks after Winter Solstice, which was actually hard to pin down or remember. Until aboyt the Southern and Northern Dynasties(420AD-581AD) there appeared records in Jingchu Suishiji(Festivals in the Jingchu Area) that the date of “Lari” was fixed on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. The ancient people offered sacrifices to their ancestors mainly to pray for good health and longevity or to ward off disasters and evil spirits. According to Jingchu Suishiji on the Laba Festival, people played waisted drums(known as the La Dtum) and wore masks acting the Buddha’s warrior attendants to ward off illness. This folk dance is derived from the practice of removing curses and spells. Here wearing the mask is one of the Nuo rituals(nuo, to exorcise evil spirits).




Another tradition of the Laba Festival is eating porridge. Though there are various kinds of porridge, traditionally the porridge is prepared with glutinous rice and coarse cereals, known as Laba rice porridge.




Laba rice porridge had become popular by the Southern Song Dynasty1127AD-1279AD. According to Wu Lin Jiu Shi Old Affairs of Wulin),on the eighth of the twelfth lunar monthLaba rice porridge was cooked in houses and temples containing walnuts pine nutsmushroomspersimmon nutsetc. According to Meng Liang LuRecord of the Colden Millet Dream), the eight day of the twelfth lunar month was called Laba in temples. In all big Buddhist temples Laba rice porridge was prepared with five ingredients. Wu Cunkai of the Qing Dynasty1644AD-1911ADalso mentioned Laba rice porridge in the preface to his writing Jiang Xiang Jie Wu Shi that Laba rice porridgealso called Qibao Seven Treasureporridgewas originally offered to the Buddha in templeslater becoming a popular dish among common people. Nowadays the tradition is still followed in some temples. On every Laba Festivalpots of porridge are prepared and offered to people as alms. In old times rich people would give Laba rice porridge to the poor in chairity. Gradually many people followed suit. Laba rice porridge has its local characteristicssuch as the porridge made of Jobs tears seed in the southern part of Anhui Province the millet porridge in Heilingjiang Provincethe Lotus seed porridge in Hangzhouwhich are all very famous. Based on the traditional cookingcanned porridge namely BabaoEight Treasureporridge has been developed.




Legend about the origin of Laba rice porridge abound. One of the legends says that when on his way into the high Indian mountains in his quest for understanding and enlightenment, Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, grew tired and hungry. Exhausted from days of walking, he passed into unconsciousness. Ashepherdess found him there and fed him her lunch---porridge made with beans, rice and milk. Sakyamuni was thus able to continue his journey. That day was the eighth of the twelfth lunar month. Ever since, Sutras were chanted in the temples and rice porridge with beans, nuts and dried fruit was prepared for the Buddha on that day. Buddhists believed that everyone was Buddha of the Future and should be respected, so they offered Laba porridge to everyone. Later this practice was followed by common people and with the passage of time it developed into a custom. Gu Lu of the Qing Dynasty mentioned in his Qing Jia Lu (Records of Jiaqing Period of the Qing Dynasty) that on the Laba Festival people made porridge with rice and beans and called it Laba rice porridge. Porridge was also pffered by monks and nuns and they called it Buddha’s porridge. Li Fu of the Tang Dynasty(618AD-907AD) once wrote a poem tited Laba Rice Porridge: Laba rice porridge, introduced by Buddhists, containing seven ingredients and flavored by five spices, is very delicious; offered as a vegetarian dish, it spreads the teachings of Buddhism. Connected with such an unusual story, Laba rice porridge had received universal attention. It was even considered as a drug. As indicated in the essay on Porridge in Vol.3 of Outline of Historical Researches into the Sakya Family Lineage, the porridge, which is highly thought of by Buddhists, is a good medicine with three benefits and ten effects.


另一种说法,则与明太祖朱元璋有关。据说朱元璋nianqing 时以放牛为生,饥饿难挨,掘鼠洞掘出不少五谷杂粮,熬粥充饥。后来做了皇帝,吃腻了山珍海味,在腊八这一天忽然想起了当年吃的这种粥,让御厨照样做了送上去,果然别有风味,于是赐名“腊八粥”,传遍了天下。


Another story about Laba rice porridge has something to do with Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty (1368AD---1644AD). It is said that when he was a cowboy he had to feed himself by cooking porridge with grains dug from the rat holes. Later when he became the emperor, he got fed up with all delicious foods. On the Laba Festival he remembered the porridge he had had as a boy and ordered his cook to make it according to his recipe, which turned out extremely good. The porridge with the name Laba rice porridge, became popular throughout the country.


还有一种说法也挺有趣的,就记载在明代李时珍,《本草纲目. 谷部》“赤豆”条,说是当年怒触不周山的那个共工氏有七个不肖之子,死后做了疫鬼,肆无忌惮,为所欲为,却偏偏害怕赤豆,所以人们相传在腊八日要做赤豆粥,用来打鬼。说是赤豆粥,其实要放进去好多东西,通常先是将赤豆、白云豆、绿豆、大麦等洗净,放水煮半熟,再放入大米、小米、黄米、高粱等,先用旺火,再用温火,把粥炖熟。吃时加糖,或伴以煮熟的红枣、栗子,还有在粥里放莲子、薏米、菱角米、白果、桂圆的,那就愈发讲究了。据说当年吃“腊八粥”还有一种仪式,先是打鬼,然后再吃粥。久而久之,大家心照不宣,觉得这个打鬼的仪式似乎有点玄乎,不做也罢,就一门心思吃起粥来。


There is still another interesting story, which was recorded by Li Shizhen of the Ming Dynasty in his work Compendium of Materia Medica: Grain Section to explain red bean. It goes like thisGong GongA red-haired giant monster of half man and half snake who started a war for power against the god of Zhuan Xu. Defeated he flied into a rage and hit his humongous head upon the Buzhou Mountain which was the Pillar supporting the skyhad seven unworthy sons who turned into ghosts of plague after death. They did what ever they liked and would stop at nothing except the red bean. In order to drive them away people passed down the tradition of making red bean porridge. The porridge actually had many ingredients. Red beanswhite kidney beansgreen beans and barley grains were cleaned and half cooked first. Then it was cooked again with ricemilletglutinous millet and sorghum. At the start the flame must be high but the fire was then turned down to let the porridge simmer. The porridge was then eaten with sugar or cooked dates and chestnuts. Sometimes lotus seedsJobs tears seedswater caltrop pulpginkgo and longan pulp were added to make it even more tasteful. It was said that Laba rice porridge was eaten after the ceremony of driving ghosts away. Gradually it became an unspoken understanding among people that the ceremony was somewhat ridiculous and unhelpful therefore they just ate the porridge without the ceremony.




As indicated aboveorgins about Laba rice porridge vary greatly and it is unnecessary to decide which one is more reasonablesince they are just out understanding of the customs. AnywayLaba rice porridge has been developed is now nor did its ingredients vary so much. But as four eyes see more than two it was enriched little by little. In Yanjing Suishiji Yanjing Age In Mindwritten during the Qing Dynasty the cooking method of Laba rice porridge was also mentioned which seemed even more complicated and delicate. Nowadays young people only know about Babao Eight Treasureporridgebut not its original name QibaoSeven Treasure porridge or Laba rice porridge not to mention the stories behind it. Now that the people know the stories it would be different when they eat Laba riceporridge again.


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