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Hong Kong's 'villain-hitting' ritual draws crowds

by The Associated Press | March 19, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.
Customers watch a "villain hitting" ceremony on the day of "ging zat," as pronounced in Cantonese, which on the Chinese lunar calendar literally means "awakening of insects," under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong on Monday, March 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

By ALICE FUNG and KARMEN LI

Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) -- For people holding a grudge in Hong Kong, one way to release their anger is to take part in the "villain-hitting" ritual.

Those seeking to ease their anxieties and improve their mood visit an area beneath the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay, one of the city's shopping districts. Under the highway, they watch ritual practitioners --mostly older women -- use a shoe to bash an image of the person who is the target of their anger.

The target could be anyone -- rival lovers, unfriendly colleagues, horrible bosses or unlikeable public figures.

The ritual is especially popular in March because some believe the best day to perform it falls on "ging zat," as pronounced in Cantonese, a day on the Chinese lunar calendar that literally means "awakening of insects."

This year, "ging zat" fell on March 6. The tradition attracted crowds for the first time after the lifting of major COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask mandate.

"I'm hoping to cut out all the gossip around me and wish that the bad people would stay away from me," said Edison Chan, a tourist from neighboring Guangdong province.

Ho Pan-yong, one of the practitioners, said she wanted to help customers whack the bad people in their lives. She charged 50 Hong Kong dollars ($6.40) for the five-minute ritual, which includes lighting incense offerings to the gods, the striking of the image and a concluding blessing.

The ritual, in which no one is physically harmed, could help those who are in distress, said Dr. Beatrice Ng-Kessler, a registered clinical psychologist in Hong Kong and the U.K.

photo A practitioner performs a "villain hitting" ceremony and waves paper over a customer under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. People holding a grudge may have found a way to release it in Hong Kong's "villain hitting" ritual. To relieve themselves from a bad mood, customers paid ritual practitioners who work underneath the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay, one of the city's shopping districts, and watched them bashing an image of their target with a shoe. It could be anyone — rival lovers and unfriendly colleagues, or horrible bosses and unlikeable public figures. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
photo A customer watch as a practitioner performs a "villain hitting" ceremony as customers watch under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. People holding a grudge may have found a way to release it in Hong Kong's "villain hitting" ritual. To relieve themselves from a bad mood, customers paid ritual practitioners who work underneath the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay, one of the city's shopping districts, and watched them bashing an image of their target with a shoe. It could be anyone — rival lovers and unfriendly colleagues, or horrible bosses and unlikeable public figures. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
photo A practitioner performs a "villain hitting" ceremony on the day of "ging zat," as pronounced in Cantonese, which on the Chinese lunar calendar literally means "awakening of insects," under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong on Monday, March 6, 2023. People holding a grudge may have found a way to release it in Hong Kong's "villain hitting" ritual. To relieve themselves from a bad mood, customers paid ritual practitioners who work underneath the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay, one of the city's shopping districts, and watched them bashing an image of their target with a shoe. It could be anyone — rival lovers and unfriendly colleagues, or horrible bosses and unlikeable public figures. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

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