Villain Hitting - Condemn your enemy (not!)
Villain hitting, or petty person beating is folk belief aiming to curse one’s enemies with sorcery. The ritual originated from centuries ago in Guangdong Province, where Chinese people once used as a ceremony to drive away evil spirits. Evolving into a means where people use to release their anger in the 20th centuries, those who are with prolonged grievances often use this traditional practice as a way to achieving peace of mind by putting a curse on the chosen subject. The practice is now listed as an ‘intangible cultural heritage’ by the government in Hong Kong.
According to the Chinese calendar, Jingzhe is now the most popular date for villain hitting, and doing such practice on this day of the year serves a purpose of preventing one-self from those who would be harmful to you.
Villain is divided into two types, specific villain and general villain. The former type are individuals targeted by the villain hitter to release their hatred. They could either be their enemies or famous
people such as government officials or politicians. The latter are groups of people potentially harmful to the crowd.
It is a funny thing to say that villain hitting was particularly popular in the year 2012, where disgruntled Hong Kong citizens of more than 6,000 people, gathered together for a massive villain hitting session, has targeted Mr. Donald Tsang, former Hong Kong Chief Executive who got no punishment from accepting bribes from different forms of gifts and luxurious holidays following the norm in corrupted communist regime in Mainland China. No account have be made for the briberies and corrupted activities and not even an answer was made to the citizens after numerous protests. This has been seen as one of the largest scandal of the year and was seen as the largest Villain Hitting gathering ever.
Another leader of the Hong Kong Government, Mr. CY Leung, the third Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has also been a subject targeted to be ‘hit’ by citizens. The lack of universal suffrage led to public criticisms. Marches and protests by citizens to the Central Government Office led to the emergence of the umbrella movement in 2014. During that year, a lot of citizens have made their way to the flyover seeing Mr. Leung as their targeted villain, saying that they have to hit him until his steps down. Nevertheless, one funniest thing yet to be seen was most grandmas have rejected these orders. Why did they do so? Perhaps they were afraid to put themselves into danger in such an undemocratic society? The answer is something yet to be found.
Where for a taste?
If you ever want a taste of this tradition, do drop by the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay, named ‘Ngo Keng Kiu’. This is where a group of elderly women, as professional villain beaters gather and set up stalls everyday under the flyover.
Once the grandmothers have received the order from the clients, the ceremony begins. It is divided into 8 parts:
1. Sacrifice to divinities by worshipping through burning incenses.
2. Write the name and the date of birth, or if there is, any photo identification or clothing of the target on the villain paper.
3. Make use of symbolic objects, such as old wooden shoes to hit the villain paper until it breaks apart. Some also uses other religious weapons like incense sticks to hit or damage the villain paper. At this stage, hitters are also cursing as you are hitting. Grandmas would be saying in Cantonese, “Hit the little man’s head, so you wouldn't be able to breath. Hit the little man’s nose, so you wouldn’t be able to smell anything Hit the little man’s feet, so you wouldn’t be able to walk even you have shoes.” Etc
4. Villain hitters would then sacrifice to ‘Bai Hu’ (white tiger) by feeding them. ‘Bai Hu’ is a cut from yellow paper into a tiger shape, where black stripes were drawn on the body and showing a pair of tooth shapes in its mouth. A small piece of pork soaked with pig blood would then but put inside the paper tiger’s mouth by the villain hitter as an act of sacrifice.
6. Pray for blessings, where you use a red ‘Gui Ren’(貴人) paper to pray for blessings.
7. Treasure Burning, where you would burn all the money-like-treasures made of paper, to workship the spirits for blessings.
8. Lastly, the Zhi Jiao (擲筊) process, by hitting the two red crescent-shaped wooden pieces to finish off the whole ceremony.
The whole ceremony is then finished after completing the 8 steps. It is seen as a chant for good luck and well-being. Seeing it as a tradition for so many years, the emergence of technology has also paved a way for keeping the custom. There are now mobile apps for villain hitting replacing the sorceresses, however without queues, without the smell of incenses, to me this surely could not replace the joy and laughter you would get from a personal experience. Out of curiosity, I actually had a personal encounter of such experience four years ago. Although the whole process lasted for around 10 minutes, doing so for dispelling bad luck was just for $50 HKD (~ £5). So why not give it a try for good fortune?
*words: Rachelle Lam *photos: Shannan Chan