Birthday of the Goddess of Mercy

Goddess of Mercy, Birthday of the

March-April, 19th day of third lunar month; October-November, 19th day of 10th lunar month
The birthday of the Goddess of Mercy is a celebration of Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva ("Buddha-to-be") of infinite compassion and mercy. One of the most beloved of Buddhist deities, he or she is accepted not only by Buddhists but also by Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans. This deity has been depicted as both masculine and feminine and sometimes as transcending sexual identity (with soft body contours but also a moustache).
The Lotus Sutra, or scripture, says Avalokitesvara (the deity's Sanskrit name, meaning "the lord who looks in every direction") is able to assume whatever form is needed to relieve suffering. He/she exemplifies the compassion of the enlightened and is known in Tibet as Spyan-ras gzigs, "with a pitying look." Kuan Yin, the Chinese name, means "regarder of sounds," or "of the voices of the suffering." The Japanese word for the deity is pronounced "Kannon."
Women especially celebrate Kuan Yin. In Malaysia, hundreds of devotees bearing joss sticks, fresh fruit, flowers, and sweet cakes gather twice a year at temples dedicated to Kuan Yin in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to pray for her benevolence. (She is feminine there and in China, Korea, and Japan.) At the old temple at Jalan Pitt, Penang, puppet shows are staged in celebration of her. In Hong Kong, Kuan Yin is honored on the 19th day of the sixth lunar month at Pak Sha Wan in Hebe Haven.
See also Sanja Matsuri
Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board
818 W. 7th St., Ste. 970
Los Angeles, CA 90017
800-336-6842 or 213-689-9702; fax: 213-689-1530
DictWrldRel-1989, p. 79
EncyRel-1987, vol. 2, p. 552
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.