Royal Zulu Reed Dance

The annual Royal Zulu Reed Dance (uMkhosi woMhlanga) took place last week with thousands of young women attending the ceremony at the Enyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal. The festival, which takes its name from the riverbed reeds which the young maidens carry, was reintroduced by King Goodwill Zwelithini in 1991, as a means of encouraging young women to abstain from sex until they’re married, thus limiting the possibility of HIV transmission.

The reeds are carried in a procession by thousands of young women who are invited to the king’s palace each year to take part in the ceremony. Accompanied by jubilant singing and dancing, the maidens wind their way up the hill to the palace entrance where the king awaits. According to Zulu mythology, if a young woman who is not a virgin takes part in the ceremony, her reed will break.

The Reed Dance is also an opportunity for the women to show off their singing, dancing and beadwork, with the colours and patterns of the beadwork reflecting the regions the maidens come from.

Read more about the Zulu Reed Dance here.

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