Squatting at a makeshift shrine with joss sticks burning beside her, Granny Leung starts bashing a manlike paper cut-out with a pair of sandals.
“I beat you little people, I’m sending you away!” chants the 76-year-old woman, one of the last practitioners in Hong Kong of the ancient Chinese ritual of “da siu yan”, or “beating the petty little people”.
Granny Leung performs her mysterious incantations in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay. And business is booming.
For as little as HK$50 ($6), Leung claims she can curse her customers’ enemies and reverse their bad luck by burning paper offerings and hitting paper figures with shoes.
Believers say the ritual can help to drive away evil spirits in general, or a specific nemesis such as a hated neighbour, a business competitor or a love rival.
…Each bout takes about 30 minutes, depending on how tough the villains are and how many times Leung needs to beat them until they are gone.
Another stage of the ritual involves feeding pig lard to paper tigers, which represent malignant beings, so they are full and will not bother people.
Here is more and for the pointer I thank Daniel Lippman.