Buddhism, a religion founded by Gautama Buddha, encompasses a variety of traditions, practices and teachings given by him. This religion is mainly found in Asia and mainly in places like, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Korea to name a few. There are two main branches of the religion and both of them have their important significance.
Kuan Yin is considered to be the Goddess of Mercy mainly by the East Asian Buddhists. There is a mixed opinion about her among her devotes where few consider her as a man and some of them as a female. Several depictions of hers show both the male and the female features. According to their tradition, this simply means the ability to change forms according to the wish in order to relieve the sufferings and also their power to grant the people with children. Her birthday is generally celebrated on every 19th day of the second, sixth and the ninth month. These three days of the year are celebrated with much pomp and joy in honor of her and also to mark her birth. The days are selected in accordance to the Chinese lunar calendar.
Since Kuan Yin symbolizes compassion and mercy, woman tend to attend the celebration a lot more than the men and her birthday is celebrated with a great fervor in several monasteries around the world and. These three days are celebrated a bit differently at different places, in the sense various traditions are followed on these days. In Malaysia, several thousand devotees gather on these days at the temple that is dedicated to Kuan Yin in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, bearing incense sticks, fresh fruits, flowers and also sweet cakes. They pray for her benevolence since Kuan Yin is considered to be a woman in China, Japan and Korea. In Hong Kong, Kuan Yin’s birthday is celebrated on every 19th day of the sixth lunar month. In some places, puppet shows are put up depicting various stories from the lives of the people.
This celebration falls under one of the branches of Buddhism called as the Mahayana traditions. This is followed mainly in Tibet and China. The main reason for the celebrations to fall on the these three days of the year is that, the 19th day of the second month depicts her birth, the same 19th day of the sixth month is considered to be the day she got enlightenment and the other 19thday of the ninth month shows her entry into nirvana. On these three days, the people are strictly made to follow only a vegetarian diet and must go on a fasting to refrain themselves from meat. Some of the pilgrims who wish to attend the celebrations for Kuan Yin’s birthday on the 19th tend to reach the temple on the 18th, in order to attend the pre dawn services.
The ornaments that adorn Kuan Yin have an importance of its own. This birthday celebrations of Kuan Yin are celebrated with so much enjoyment and devotion in places where the Mahayana branch of Buddhism is principally followed.