Check out this great article on porridge in China:
PETALING JAYA: The distribution of “Laba Zhou” on the eighth day of the final month on the lunar calendar marks the start to the Chinese New Year, a tradition that started during the Han Dynasty.
Chempaka Buddhist Lodge accordingly distributed the porridge to its devotees and neighbours during the “Laba Zhou” festival, which fell on the same day as the New Year, this year.
The festival included chanting and prayers.
The tradition is believed to have originated when Sakyamuni, who was feeling very hungry while practising extreme austerity, was fed milk and rice by a shepherd.
Upon consuming the milk and rice, he realised that subjecting oneself to extreme pain was not the way to reach enlightenment.
To remember the event, Buddhists prepare the porridge each year.
Chempaka Buddhist Lodge’s recipe includes glutinous rice, red beans, millets, chestnut meat and dried lotus seeds. Preparations began two days prior to the festival, when the dried ingredients were soaked.
Volunteers helped to cook the prepared items.
Resident monk Master Ti Hui led the chanting before the porridge was distributed to about 700.