In Chinese Buddhism, the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, Laba Day, is regarded as the Buddha’s Enlightenment Day. On this day, Dharma service and rituals are held and the sangha also cooks Laba porridge as one of the offerings for the Buddha.
How does Laba Day relate to Bodhi Day?
It is said that at the age of twenty-nine, Siddhārtha Gautama, the historical Buddha, left his worldly life behind as a wandering yogi to engage himself in the ascetic path under the guidance of two ascetic teachers. However, after six years of practice, when Siddhārtha realized that he was not reaching his ultimate goal, the complete liberation, through the ascetic way of life, he left the ascetic community and began to seek enlightenment on his own through meditation. At this point, his physical body has become thin as a stick. When Siddhārtha traveled to the Nairanjana River, he fainted on the ground because of excessive hunger. At this time, a shepherd girl saw this and offered porridge to the Buddha. After eating the porridge, the Buddha recovered his physical strength, and continued to travel to Bodhgaya. There, he sat down under a Bodhi tree and vowed not to stand up until he attained enlightenment. After forty-nine days, Siddhārtha came out of his meditation after overcoming all the temptations and disturbances made by Maras and attaining complete enlightenment. At this point, Siddhārtha has become a buddha, a fully awakened one, and there would be no further rebirth in the samsaric realms for him.
After Buddhism spread to East Asia, the story of Buddha’s enlightenment was combined and celebrated with the Laba Festival, a year-end festival formed since the Han dynasty. In order to commemorate Buddha’s Enlightenment Day, a tradition was formed for people to offer to the Buddha on this day with fruits and five grains to cook the Laba porridge.
This year’s Laba Festival will be on December 30th. We welcome you to join us in-person or online to participate in the special Dharma service held for Buddha’s Enlightenment Day. Laba rice porridge will be served after the Dharma service. It contains glutinous rice, red beans, millet, Chinese sorghum, peas, dried lotus seeds, and may include some other ingredients, such as dried dates, chestnut, walnut, almond, peanut, etc. Sugar is added to make the porridge sweet and tasty.
Click here or the image below to see information regarding this special event on our website.
Merit-making is important in one’s spiritual practice. Merit is the result of good actions or deeds. If you would like to offer to the Buddha through the power of the sangha during this Friday’s dharma assembly and ritual, please consider making a donation. Any amount would be appreciated.