Chinese people celebrate Laba Festival, which fell on Jan 19 this year, by eating rice porridge. Since it is originally a Buddhist festival, Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, distributed more than 300,000 plates of rice porridge among the people for free. But such free offerings can also lead to chaos, says an article on gmw.cn. Excerpts:
Chinese people have traditionally eaten rice porridge on Laba Festival. But the “fight” for “free porridge” in a relatively rich province raises some serious questions.
The temple’s offering was meant for people who cannot afford it, and it invited inmates of local orphanages and welfare houses, as well as poor people and tourists, to enjoy the free rice porridge.
But many ordinary citizens also turned up to get the porridge because they were either too lazy to make them at home or because they just wanted a free helping of the traditional dish. And their disorderly behavior at the temple created a chaos.
Laba Festival is not only for eating rice porridge, but also to reflect on Buddha’s enlightenment. It is believed that Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, meditated under the bodhi tree for six years, after which a shepherdess passing by offered him some food. He sat under the tree for another seven days before attaining enlightenment. Therefore, enlightenment and helping people in trouble are the real essence of the festival.
The Lingyin Temple event, however, saw many middle-class and well-off people fighting for the free porridge, reflecting the desperation of some people in China to save every possible penny.
What comes as a comfort, though, is that free porridge was also distributed by Shaolin Temple in Henan province and Huayan Temple in Chongqing, but without any disturbance. It’s time people realized that “free” offerings do not mean chaos and ensured that the Hangzhou incident was an exception rather than the rule.
Source: China Daily