Sunday, December 16, 2007
Want a good year? Whack the baddies 你需要打小人吗？
Spring is the time when hibernating animals wake up to look for food. According to old Chinese beliefs, the ferocious white tiger (白虎, 俗称虎爷）also comes out to hunt at this time. The villagers would give food offerings so that it would not turn on them.
Besides worshipping the white tiger, the people of Guangdong province in China also started the custom of 'whacking small people' as they believe that illnesses and small (mean) people would start to harm others at the start of Spring. At the beginning of Chinese New Year, a trip to the temple to whack the baddies would mean chasing away the evil spirits, ensuring a year of good health, good luck and peace.
On March 5 to 7 every year, long queues would form outside a temple in Balestier. The worshippers, some are from other races, come with offerings to pay respect to the statue of a white tiger.
When a believer's turn comes, he would knee down to light his candles. Then he takes out a piece of lard to smear on the white tiger's mouth and offers a duck egg, while chanting "Good people to approach me, 'small' people to leave me alone." (好人近身，小人远离。) They believe the food would keep the tiger's mouth busy and not bite them. hehe.....
And the most interesting part of the ritual comes..... the believers would use their shoes or slippers to whack paper cut outs hard. They would also stomp on them. We could also see people sticking needles in the paper cut outs or cursing the intended to Hell in some extreme cases. hehehe....
Such actions is a form of emotional release. To the believers, it's therapeutic and helps in healing their hurt egos. It's cheaper than seeing a shrink though. And lesser assaults or murder cases....
When I was in Hong Kong, a friend brought me to see how they carry out the ritual. If you are shy or aren't good enough, you can pay for a professional whacker to do it for you. They are all elderly ladies who can really curse, all your foes' 18 generations will rot in Hell after that! Trust me, you wouldn't want to mess with them.
*photos obtained from our local Chinese papers, Zaobao