Guan Yin is known as bodhisattva of the infinite concern in East Asian Buddhism. It is believed that Guan Yin can take different forms to help others. Therefore, she can be represented by either having a female or male body.
Guan Yin’s birthday is an important day in China. Traditionally, worship of Guan Yin originated from the former devotion to male Indian Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. When worshipping of Avalokitesvara became common in China, he was also initially worshipped in the form of a male, but with time the representation had undergone changes. Since Avalokiteśvara is regarded as the personification of kindness and compassion and as these traits are generally associated with the Chinese idea of Yin, the image of Avalokiteśvara in China transformed to a female form during the twelfth century because of the influence of Daoist on Buddhism.
The nineteenth day of the second month of a lunar year is celebrated as Guan Yin’s birthday. On this day, young men and women come together and burn joss sticks and worship the goddess either in the court area or in the temple hall. Some devotees also offer oil for the lamp of Guan Yin. This is an offering meant for peace and health.
Some of the common dishes served on this day include porridge, fried koey teow and noodles, which stays true to authentic Chinese cuisine. All dishes served at the festivities are typically vegetarian as well.
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