Ever since I was a little boy, we have had a white porcelain statue of an oriental-looking lady in our living room. She stands on what looks like a huge plant, and holds in her hands a flower whose thorny vines gracefully wrap around her flowing robes. The statue has an intricate wooden base that contrasts, yet adds, to the beauty of the subject.
My mom says she hand-carried the statue with great pains from Singapore during one of her trips.
I later found out, after seeing many other visual representations of this lady, that our statue was of the merciful Bodhisattva Quan Yin. She is said to have vowed never to return to heaven, and remain among us, until she had ensured that all beings had been freed from samsara, or reincarnation, and would finally come home to the source.
Although most depictions of her are oriental, it seems that references point to her Indian roots, in the same way that the Buddha is commonly mistaken as being Chinese. But then again, in those days, we did not have the same territorial distinctions we are all too stuck up in now. As the painting above suggests, we see Quan Yin dressed in traditional 'Bharat' attire, but possessing unmistakable oriental features. Beautiful fusion, I must say.
Because of her great compassion, she is sometimes the object of a cruelty-free or vegetarian lifestyle.
Hands down, when asked what my favorite vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Manila is, my response is Quan Yin Chay.
One fellow blogger I sincerely admire, Senor Enrique, wrote about Quan Yin Chay very recently.
You can read about it here.