Kuan Yin is a Bodhisattva that is popular in Chinese Buddhism. She is also known as the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, and there for is often compared to the Christian Mother Mary. In earlier times she is depicted as a male, and no one knows when or why she changed sex. Now is she known as a Bodhisattva or female Buddha.
One story related to Kuan Yin is that she was the daughter of a very cruel King, who wanted to marry her off at an early age. Kuan Yin refused. He forced her into hard labor and hoped to break her to marrying the wealthy man he had picked out for her. She fulfilled the tasks well and with pleasure which angered her father.
He then placed her into a monastery and told the nuns to give her the hardest tasks to perform in hopes that she would want to come home and marry the man. Kuan Yin performed the tasks well and asked to become a nun so she could help ease human suffering. He father forbade that and burned down the monastery killing many monks and nuns.
Kuan Yin cursed her father and then later healed him when he agreed to rebuild the monastery and help others to become enlightened monks.
Kuan Yin was on her way to nirvana when she heard the cries of suffering of others. She decided to stay on the earth as a living female Buddha in order to help the others break the cycle of samsara or reincarnation.
In China especially, Kuan Yin is associated with Vegetarianism and often depicted in restaurants. Not only is she the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, but she is seen as a fertility Goddess who can grant children to mothers and watch over them. She is a protectoress of children and seamen. Call upon her to be patient and compassionate with others.
Her mantra or prayer is "Om Mani Padme Hum", which means "Hail to the jewel in the lotus" as she often depicted sitting atop a lotus blossom. Many people honor her by decorating their home with lotus flowers and statues of her.