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People In China Enjoy Laba Festival With (Free!) Rice Porridge

This looks like our kind of celebration.
Thousands of people in China went to Buddhist temples to celebrate the Laba Festival, a holiday which entails eating bowls of
Thousands of people in China went to Buddhist temples to celebrate the Laba Festival, a holiday which entails eating bowls of congee, or rice porridge. Two girls eat Laba congee in Zhengzhou, Henan Province.

There is nothing better than healthy, nourishing food. Especially if it's free.

Thousands of people across China flocked to their region's Buddhist temples on Sunday to take part in the Laba Festival, which is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th month of the Chinese calendar.

"La" is the name of that month, while "ba" is the Chinese word for "eight." The celebration was originally a time for people to give sacrifices to their ancestors and pray for good harvest and health.

As part of the festivities, many Buddhist monks gave the temples' visitors bowls of congee, or rice porridge, a meal that typically consists of rice, water and other flavorings. The practice originated from the 10th-century Song dynasty, when royal families distributed congee to the poor, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.

Laba congee contains eight kinds of grains and cereals and 18 types of nuts and dried fruits. Eight is a lucky number in Chinese culture, representing wealth and fortune, and 18 represents the 18 arhats, or Buddhist disciples who have attained enlightenment.

Take a look at revelers across the country getting their fill of delicious congee.

  • Monks ladle out Laba congee at the Guangren Temple in Xi'an, a city in China's Shaanxi province, on Jan. 17, 2016.
    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
    Monks ladle out Laba congee at the Guangren Temple in Xi'an, a city in China's Shaanxi province, on Jan. 17, 2016.
  • Cooks make Laba congee in Xi'an.
    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
    Cooks make Laba congee in Xi'an.
  • An woman smiles as she receives bowls of Laba congee at the Lama Temple in Beijing.
    Wang Zhao/Getty Images
    An woman smiles as she receives bowls of Laba congee at the Lama Temple in Beijing.
  • People wait to eat Laba congee at Guangren Temple in Xi'an.
    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
    People wait to eat Laba congee at Guangren Temple in Xi'an.
  • Monks hand out Laba congee to citizens at Guangren Temple.
    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
    Monks hand out Laba congee to citizens at Guangren Temple.
  • A man eats his Laba congee at Guangren Temple.
    ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images
    A man eats his Laba congee at Guangren Temple.
  • A woman holds up incense sticks as she prays during the Laba Festival at Beijing's Lama Temple.
    Wang Zhao/Getty Images
    A woman holds up incense sticks as she prays during the Laba Festival at Beijing's Lama Temple.
  • Two women eat Laba congee in Beijing.
    WANG ZHAO via Getty Images
    Two women eat Laba congee in Beijing.
  • Citizens line up to receive Laba congee at Guangren Temple.
    ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Citizens line up to receive Laba congee at Guangren Temple.
  • Monks give away Laba congee.
    ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
    Monks give away Laba congee.

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