Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guan Yin's Birthday

This is gonna be another entry about birthday. But no worries, I have had enough entries on my birthday this year. It was someone else's birthday this time. Roughly one month back, it was Guan Yin's birthday. My grandma told me that she will be going to the temple on that day. Since I was still having my spring holiday back then, I thought why not I accompany her to the temple and at the same time, make some offering to the Goddess of Mercy.

Just before you get me wrongly, Guan Yin isn't the name of my friend haha!

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Grandma buying some traditional cakes outside the temple. Common cakes are like ang koo (red glutinous rice cake), mee koo (red coloured bun) 
and huat kuih (prosperous cakes).

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And also a few stalks of chrysanthemum flowers as offerings for the Goddess of Mercy.

Guanyin is the Chinese name for Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva. However, folk traditions in China and other East Asian countries have added many distinctive characteristics and legends. Avalokiteśvara was originally depicted as a male Bodhisattva, and therefore wears chest-revealing clothing and may even sport a moustache. Although this bare-chested and moustached depiction still exists in the Far East, Guanyin is more often depicted as a woman in modern times. Additionally, some people believe that Guanyin is both man and woman (or perhaps neither). (from Wikipedia)

Just a short fact about Guan Yin, which I copied and pasted from Wikipedia haha wtf! Oppps, silap. I shouldn't swear in this entry lol!

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Devotees had filled the temple since early in the morning to perform their prayers and make their offerings to the Goddess of Mercy on her birthday.

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Devotees came to seek blessing, good health, longevity, away from suffering and everything that devotees can think of in their prayers.

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Huge incense coils hanging from the ceiling.

I went to pick up both of my grandmas on that morning before we head to the Guan Yin temple near Simpang, which is just about ten minutes away from my house, by car.

One interesting fact about Guan Yin's birthday is that it is celebrated three times a year - on the nineteenth day of the second, sixth and ninth lunar month. Don't ask me why, because when I posed the same question to my grandma, she just gave me a smile, which indicated that she didn't know the reason either haha!

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The main prayer hall inside the Guan Yin temple. A statue of the Laughing Buddha can be spotted on the front altar.

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The Guan Yin statue inside the temple. On the table are the common offerings like the pink peach cake (仙桃).

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Devotees came in big number with offerings such as lighted lotus candles, lamps, joss sticks, flowers, fruits, cakes and other dry food such as rice, sugar and bihun.

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Another goddess, whom my Mom calls it "chu seh niao niao" (recitation needed lol!), which is known as the fertility goddess capable of granting children. 

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It is common to see devotees light up the lotus-shaped candles as they offer their prayers. The act of offering light represents the light of wisdom.

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Various types of gold paper called "kim", which means "gold" to the Goddess.

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The gold and coloured papers are folded and spread out to be burned as offerings to the Goddess of Mercy for good luck and fortune.

Most of the devotees usually choose to go on a strict vegetarian diet to cleanse themselves on the holy day. Volunteers will come to the temple early in the morning and work together to prepare the food for the devotees. Common dishes served are fried noodles, porridge, and fried koey teow. I wanted to go on vegetarian on that day too, but I think it only lasted half day because I think I mistakenly ter-ate some non-vegetarian stuff haha wtf!

My Mom used to tell me that there is one section in this temple where they display paintings of how it is like in the hell.

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Yan Wang, the judge of the dead, the judge of the underworld and passes judgment on all the dead. He always appears in a male form, and his minions include a judge who holds in his hands a brush and a book listing every soul and the allotted death date for every life.

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Men or women who committed misdeeds (such as ill-treated their parents, ascetics, holy persons and elders) will be sentenced to torture and/or miserable future lives. Yanluo divided Diyu (hell) into ten levels or courts each ruled by a Yama King, such as Chu Jiang who ruled the court reserved for thieves and murderers.

Looking at those paintings certainly sent shivers down my spine. It is a good and timely reminder for everyone that we should avoid from doing misdeeds in our life and create bad karma, to avoid facing the consequences in our after life.

At the temple, I also saw my grandaunt and third uncle, who were there to offer their prayers too. It has been years since I last seen them and it was a great coincidence that I saw them at the temple, of so many places. After my grandmas and I had performed our prayers and did our offerings, we left the temple. But before leaving, a picture of us in front of the Guan Yin temple.

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With the two super ladies in my life.

There is a reason why I didn't stand straight and you guys should know why, don't you haha!

2 comments:

霁深 said...

29/2 on chinese calendar is the birthday of Guan Yin. 19/6 is the day Bodhisatva became a Guan Yin. then the 19/9 is the day Guan Yin reached nirvana =)

calvin said...

@ 霁深:
hi there! thank you very much for the clarification. i will let my grandma know about the three different dates for guan yin's birthday the next time i see her : )