Guan-Yin (Goddess of Fertility)
Guan-Yin, a.k.a. Kwan-Yin or Kuan-Yin, is a divinity presiding over pregnancy as well as safe and easy delivery of babies at birth. Regarded as the protector of children and women, Guan-Yin sits at times with a baby in her hands.
What is most remarkable is the gradual evolution from a once vigorous male divinity of the Indian and Central Asian regions into a very graceful lady-like divinity in China. This new mother-like concept of the divinity has now fittingly come to be called the Goddess of Mercy and Fertility.
Maitreya (the Laughing Buddha)
Life is like a play, therefore, we can actually laugh over it. Relying on the Almighty power, we do our best to play our role, like Maitreya Buddha who tolerates everything with a radiant heart.
The name Maitreya is taken from the Sanskrit word maitri, meaning "kindness," "love," "benevolence," "friendship," "friendliness" or "goodwill." Thus Maitreya has been referred to as the "Loving One" or the "Friendly One," the embodiment of all-encompassing love. We see Maitreya Buddha, which is also known widely as, Mi-Le-Fo in Chinese, all the time at the Temple. To the Chinese, the core of Maitreya Buddha is the concept of generosity.
Maitreya, a.k.a. the future Buddha, the laughing Buddha, is shown with an extremely sweet and gentle countenance and plays many roles in the various Buddhist traditions throughout the Far East. In China Maitreya took on a role as the bestower of children, sons in particular.
It is possible that the fat belly is symbolic shorthand for the Chinese idiom that is used to express someone who is exceedingly tolerant -- has a "big stomach." The monk may really have been fat, or since Maitreya is a bodhisattva with limitless compassion, the quality of character that is shown by an actual "big stomach" is further emphasized by the laughing expression and a version that has numerous, little children swarming over him.
The fat belly and the children later led women to rub the belly of images of Maitreya Buddha, in hopes of conceiving children through his influence.
After having our first daughter Brenda, we were desperately trying for having another child with no success for two years. In a trip to my home city Shanghai, I visited the QiBao temple and prayed for another child in front of the Maitreya Buddha. Believe or not, I found myself pregnant 4 months later. We name this unborn child Dory, after the happy blue fish in Brenda's favorite cartoon Finding Nemo, and hope her as kind and frendly as Maitreya.