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Hong Kong’s ‘Villain Hitting’ Ritual Draws Crowds (Photos)

HONG KONG — 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.

The ritual is particularly popular in March because some people believe that 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.”

Ho Pan-yong, a 60-year-old 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. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
A practitioner performs a “villain hitting” ceremony under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
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)
A practitioner performs a “villain hitting” ceremony as customers watch under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

This year, “ging zat” fell on March 6. The tradition, mostly run by elderly women, attracted crowds of customers after the lifting of major COVID-19 restrictions, including the 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 tourist Edison Chan, who traveled from neighboring Guangdong province.

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. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
A pedestrian passes lines of customer waiting to receive 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)
A practitioner prepares papers with image of a villain at a “villain hitting” booth under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
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. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
A customer prays during a “villain hitting” ceremony under the Canal Road Flyover in Hong Kong, on Sunday, March 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

Ho Pan-yong, one of the practitioners, said she wanted to help her customers whack the bad people away from their lives. She charged 50 Hong Kong dollars ($6.40) for the five-minute act, which includes lighting incense offering to gods followed by whacking the target and concludes by ritual blessing.

The ritual, which does not hurt anyone physically, could help bring hopes to those who are distressed, said Dr. Beatrice Ng-Kessler, a registered clinical psychologist in Hong Kong and in the U.K.

A practitioner burns a paper with the image of a tiger during 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)
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. (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)
A practitioner performs a “villain hitting” ceremony near papers with images of tigers 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)

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