Beating away a year's worth of bad luck

The ancient Chinese practice called da xiao ren (beat petty, wicked people) is still popular among some Malaysian Chinese and the best day to perform the ritual this year is said to be today, the sixth day of the second month in the Chinese lunar calendar, China Press reported.

Some Chinese believe that a mythical white tiger will open its mouth on that day, which is the day of the awakening of insects in the Chinese lunar calendar. Therefore, it would be the best time to perform the ritual.

In general, believers would write down the name, date of birth and address of "offensive" people in their lives on a piece of paper and pass it to a temple caretaker, who would then carry out the procedure by beating it repeatedly using a worn shoe or wooden clog.

However, Butterworth Simpah Kuan Im Teng temple committee member Chen Xue Cheng said that some people had misinterpreted the practice as a move to curse their enemies so that bad luck would befall them.

The ritual, which included food offerings, was actually done so that the person would be protected from bad luck such as negative gossip for the year, Chen explained.

He said that his temple, which has been carrying out the procedure for more than 30 years, used "shoes" made of paper instead of worn footwear.

"Some young people can accept our practice of using paper shoes. However, others will insist on following the tradition of spitting and cursing during the ritual," added Chen.