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Insects Awakening
“Insects awakening” is one of the 24 solar terms of China. It is designated as the 5th, 6th or 7th day of the 3rd Lunar Month. This is the peak season for infectious diseases with the fluctuating temperatures; the SARS pandemic in 2003 and the fatal flu epidemic in 2008 also broke out during this period. Guangdong folklore believes that lurking creatures are awoken by the spring thunders on this day. All manners of snake, insects and mice, together with “villains”, come out for food and activity, to harm humans, livestock and crops. This is why they find it necessary to “feed the white tiger” and “beat the villain”.
The White Tiger is a star of ill omen, which also keeps the evil in check. Traditionally, blubber is used as offering to feed the white tiger so it does not bite anyone. Today, worshipping the white tiger has become a secondary activity, since villain beating becomes the major event.
What is a “Villain”
“Villains” may refer to actual persons who sow discord or foment dissension; the term can also be a metaphor for ill luck or bad omen.
Traditionally, when “villains” get close, “Gui Ren” (literally, auspicious persons) distant themselves. If villains cannot be avoided, they should be “resolved” so that their ill effects do not linger. Thus villain beating serves the due purpose of driving away ill luck and welcoming good fortune. If one encounters career hiccups, or has become an object of spite, or has an outstanding loan, or is inflicted by ailments, or whose lover is involved in affair, one would resort to “villain beating” in hopes of seeing a better change.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
1. Worship deities by Incense and Candle.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
2. Write down the name, the date of birth and the Eight Characters (baat-ji) of the committed person on the Fulu. If the client request to beat a specific villain, then put down the name, the date of birth and the Eight Characters on the villain paper.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
3. Make use of varied symbolic object such as the shoe of clients, the villain beater or other religious symbolic weapon, or to use incense or cigarette to beat the villain paper.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
4. The beater has to make sacrifice to Bái Hǔ if they want to beat villain on the day of Insects Awakening. Use a yellow paper tiger to represent Bái Hǔ, the villain beater would smear the greasy pork on Bái Hǔ's mouth to make its mouth full of oil, therefore unable to hurt people.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
5. Sprinkle the sesame and beans to resolve all the slanders and disasters.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
6. Using a red auspicious person paper to pray for blessings and gain help from the auspicious person.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
7. Worship the spirits by burning the paper treasure.
8 Steps of "Villain Beating"
8. Cast two crescent-shaped objects to the ground. While the flat surface of each of the objects faces upward and downward respectively is the called “The Holy Grail” which completes the procedure.
Public mindset
Although Hong Kong is a developed society, the custom of “villain beating” continues and becomes increasingly popular. Men and women make use of the service, many of whom are in their youth. Why do they pay (the current asking price at Canal Road Flyover is 50 Hong Kong dollars) the villain beater to perform the rite?
What troubles do they expect to dispel?
It is worth the further investigation by cultural researchers. Though some do question the actual effectiveness of “villain beating”, the chance for one to vent their discontent is believed to be psychologically therapeutic.
Resolve the hit
Offending many people, fear of becoming the beaten subject? Besides self-examination, self-reliant, there are self-help methods! According to Master Au, by carrying the “auspicious person” card or the “God of the year” card, you would be saved. Burning the symbol of multiple dispel, disaster dispel paper, paper boat, road ticket and the license of spirits would also help disperse the villain. You can also sprinkle the sesame, green bean, red bean, black bean, peanut or white rice at home, in order to drive away the villain. Besides, swiping the “auspicious person” paper in the air, swipe the paper around the client, or stick it to the wall and chant the spell would also be able to resolve.
“Villain Beating” Hotspots
On the Insects Awakening Day, public engaged in “villain beating” can be seen in other old districts, for example the crossroads at Tai Ping Shan Street. Some temples also provide such service for believers. Extensive media coverage of the practice at Canal Road Flyover has turned it into a hotspot for “villain beating”. Many believers visit the place waiting for their turn, and media, the public and tourists also come to take photographs, turning the villain beaters into “performers” under limelight.