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Time to 'buang sial' also
Published on: Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Women and men, regardless of their age, will be again queuing up as early as 4am on the eve of the Chinese New Year for the "Wang Xia" or rinsing tradition.

It is derived from the Malay phrase "buang sial" which is practised by most Chinese to rinse off bad luck in order to welcome good luck. For 54-year-old hairstylist, Agnes Wong, the eve is one of the busiest days of the year because people would flock to get their hair washed to rinse away bad luck.

"I will be at my shop as early as 4.30am to boil water adding pomelo leaves and lemon grass into it and this will be used to rinse my customers' hair after washing their hair and wishing them good fortune," she said, explaining what "Wang Xia" is.

"Even at that hour, many customers are already waiting at the door for me to open for business," said Wong who has been in the line for 35 years.

"With more than 100 customers coming in, I would give waiting numbers to prevent them from jumping queue," she said, adding these days there are also other races, Kadazans, Malays and Indians, who come for the hair wash and special rinsing.

"Of course we charge them extra for the hair wash, for example, normal price would be RM13, but on that day itself I would charge RM26 while rinsing is free," she said.

"Every year, I will also place ang pows of RM10, RM20 and RM50 on each of the seats at my salon and my first customers would come in and those lucky ones would get the one containing the RM50 note," she said, adding it was something she has been doing all along.

She also said that about 90 per cent of her customers would come just for the hair wash and the rinsing while ten per cent request for hair perms. "The Chinese at home also would bathe with pomelo leaves in the water to remove bad luck," she added.

Another hairdresser, Susan Tan, said they also practise the 'Wang Xia' rinsing at the salon at RM1 per person.

Tan also said that the pomelo leaves could be found at the night market and sold only during the Chinese New Year celebration.

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