For young people of the Bouyei ethnic group, throwing flower bags is not only a popular form of entertainment but also an activity specifically designed for courtship, called “Guidong” in the Bouyei language. By throwing flower bags, the young women and men are able to choose their ideal dates to “Langshao” (develop a romantic relationship) and may even get married if they are both happy in the relationship.
Every year during traditional festivals like Spring Festival, June 6th, and the Hungry Ghost Festival, the young Bouyei men and women will dress up and gather at the town square to take part in the exciting game of throwing flower bags.
The flower bags used for the game are square and come in all sizes featuring embroidery with various patterns and four colored ribbons at each corner of the bags. There is a long ribbon in the middle for people to grab so they can throw the bags. The bags are stuffed with grain and cotton seeds, but sometimes corn husks and chaff is used instead.
At the beginning of the game, the young men and women will form two lines at a distance of about ten meters and throw the flower bags at each other. The atmosphere immediately livens as colorful bags fill the sky. After a while, instead of throwing the flower bags randomly for fun, the young men and women will target the bags at someone specifically in order to express their affection. If someone misses the bag which is not as high as the shoulders as it passes, he or she is supposed to give a gift to the one who throws the bag as punishment. The gift could be a necklace, a bracelet, or a ring, and serves as an emblem of love.
Therefore, some people will toss the bag high beyond reach deliberately or just not catch the bag so as to receive a gift or give one. After several rounds of this, those who both find each other agreeable will continue their dates elsewhere by singing and talking with each other.