The "Laughing Buddha" depicted on Lucky Buddha beer is actually not THE Buddha and therefore not religious but cultural. He is incorporated in Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto traditions. The term buddha means "one who is awake", connoting one who has awakened into enlightenment.
The Laughing Buddha is in fact an entirely different person from the Sakyamuni buddha, or the Guatama buddha, that is, the historical Prince Siddhartha Guatama who founded the Dharma over 2,600 years ago. The Laughing Buddha came about much later after Mahayana Buddhism was already firmly established. It is believed that the Laughing Buddha known as Budai was a Chan buddhist monk who lived in China around 1,000 or so years ago. His name means "Cloth Sack", and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. His figure appears throughout Chinese culture [as well as Thai and Japanese Culture] as a representation of contentment. His image graces many temples, restaurants, amulets, and businesses. He was known to be exceedingly kind and Jolly. He was known for carrying many goods all over the world. He would travel around teaching the Dharma to the people and provide them with goodies he collected on his travels.
Because he was in a way, the patron Boddhisattva [=Enlightened Being] is pure unrestrained Happiness and Joy. He became immortalized in memory as a depiction of all things joyous and affluent in the centuries following his life. Its hard to say exactly when he was alive or even if this story is completely true. But that is the legend that became the happy or laughing buddha.
According to another legend, if one rubs the Laughing Buddha's great belly, it brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity. Budai is also referred to as the patron saint of restaurateurs, fortunetellers and bartenders. When one overeats or over drinks, friends jokingly attribute it to the Laughing Buddha's influence.
The Lucky Buddha BottleThe bespoke Lucky Buddha Beer bottle is a true original, featuring the seated laughing Buddha holding a large gold ingot above his head. This figure of Buddha is a symbol of wealth, happiness and life fulfilment.
It's all about the Lucky Buddha Experience; from the tactile, carved glass bottle, to the mood-lifting, gleeful Buddha grin, to the discovery of four good-luck symbols (for good fortune, happiness, longevity and prosperity) on the bottom of the bottle. A red, upright horseshoe on the back - perhaps the most well known and universally recognised symbol of good fortune - hugs the Lucky logo.
Love the beer - Treasure the bottle.