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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 seconds [The video and voice of beating the Petty Person]

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 seconds “Beating the petty person”, or Da Siu Yan, has been going on for at least three decades at this spot and for many years in the Southern part of Guangdong province. It still exists in Mainland China but remains even more intact in Hong Kong. The flyover here in Hong Kong Island, Wan Chai, Ngo Keng Kiu (Goose-Neck Bridge), passes over a three-way junction, making it the ideal feng shui spot for dispelling evil spirits and eliminating bad influences of the petty person. The ritual is particularly popular during Jingzhe in early March. Jingzhe is one of the 24 Chinese Feasts on the Chinese Lunar Calendar and marks the ‘awakening of insects’.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds In the traditional agricultural society, on the day Jingzhe is celebrated, the whole of creation is awakened by thunder. Different kinds of foul spirits become active. Thus, beating the petty person on this particular day can prevent harm from being inflicted by those villains. But in fact the ritual practice happens here 365 days a year and Jingzhe is only the peak.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds Now let us look at the ritual itself which generally comprises several steps. First of all, the beaters and their clients worship deities at the shrines. Then certain information, usually only names, about the person the clients want to curse, is written down on a piece of “petty person paper”. If the client does not have a specific petty person in mind, a “general petty person” is used. The beater then hits the “petty person paper” using an old shoe belonging to the client. Incantations are murmured. The beater chants during the process of the ritual. There are variations in the lyrics. The most famous version is about the beating of petty persons who are specific human beings.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds (Beat you, petty person, beat your head…. Beat your head so that you can hardly breathe…. Beat you, petty person, beat your feet…. Beat your feet so that you can hardly walk with shoes….) Pork fat is smeared over a paper tiger’s mouth signifying a sacrifice to “The White Tiger”. After paying tributes to the “Goddess of Mercy”, the “Monkey King” and the “God of War”, the beater makes circles around the client’s head with the burning paper tiger and throws it into the fire. The ritual ends with the casting of two kidney-shaped divination blocks, known as “sheng bei”, on the ground. The whole process takes about only 15 minutes and then, you are done.

Skip to 3 minutes and 44 seconds Hope your aggression can be totally released and all your enemies eliminated. Happy life, but it be may not forever. You need to come back next year for another round of Da Siu Yan.

Steps to beat stress

Professor IP analyzes the religious meanings of the “beating the petty person” rituals and the steps involved in the rituals.

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This video is from the free online course:

Virtual Hong Kong: New World, Old Traditions

City University of Hong Kong