Also known as Dharma Day, December 8th of the Lunar Calendar is the day when Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. Each year, Fo Guang Shan temples worldwide bring together the collective effort of volunteers in following Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s recipe to cook the delicious and creamy La-ba Congee. To allow everyone to have a taste of good health and peace, the congee is delivered to minority groups, retirement homes, prisons, the homeless, temples, schools, government institutes, and local communities to share in the joy and happiness of Buddha’s enlightenment (FGS: Our Report 2014).
It is said that Sakyamuni became very weak after practicing extreme austerities. After seeing the Buddha’s condition, the maiden Sujata offered him a bowl of milk rice porridge. The Buddha then regained his strength and vowed not to stop cultivating under the Bodhi tree until he finds the way to end suffering. After 49 days, the Buddha attained supreme Enlightenment.
The porridge is served on the 8th of the 12th lunar month is known as the Eight Treasures Porridge. It is cooked with nutritious ingredients such as glutinous rice, red/green beans, peanuts, red dates, goji berries, gingko nuts, lotus seeds, among others. Eating the porridge is a reminder that we cannot neglect our body and we need to take care of it and keep it healthy.