Avalokiteshwara (Japanese: Kanzeon, Chinese: Kwan Yin, Tibetan: Chenrezig) is the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and this festival day will focus on this centrally important aspect of Buddhist practice. The name Avalokiteshwara is Sanskrit, and means "The one who hears the cries of the world". To live with compassion is to hear the cries of suffering within ourselves and within all beings, and to be willing to respond.
During the festival, a wide variety of different images of Avalokiteshwara are placed around the walls of the meditation hall, and we circumambulate the hall and bow to each image as we pass it. This symbolises the fact that compassion can appear in many different forms, sometimes in a way that we least expect, and that if we are to know stability and contentment in our lives we must accept, and bow to, all these different appearances of the nature of reality. This is one way in which we ourselves express compassion for all living things.