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Published on 09 May 2014 | over 3 years ago

Zulu Dance performed during the Reed Dance Ceremony in Swaziland.

A stunning and very colorful annual ceremony that shows an interesting side of the culture of the people of Swaziland; The Reed Dance Ceremony (Umhlanga) is where thousands of Swazi maidens gather reeds, wear traditional clothes, journey to Royal Kraal and perform to pay tribute to the Queen Mother. The only Swazi maidens who are allowed to join the ceremony are those who are childless and unwed. The ceremony usually happens late August or early September. This is the time when shifting of seasons happen and reeds are maturing, making it a perfect time for harvesting; it lasts around eight days.

The days of the Umhlanga Reed Dance are chosen based on the cycle of the moon. It cannot be specifically chosen based on the calendar. Once the moon cycle has been assessed, the exact dates for the ceremony are then broadcasted through public radio, which is done by the maidens’ captain (indvuna yetintfombi). She is selected through Royal Appointment based on her expertise of the dance and her knowledge of the national royal protocol. The indvuna yetintfombi will be the one to guide the other maidens along with one princess as they begin on day one of the ceremony.

The ceremony has three main goals. First, uphold a woman’s virginity. It’s a way to encourage Swazi Maidens to abstain from any intimate relations until they are in the rightful age for marriage. Second is to honor the Queen Mother. The gathered and cut reeds by the Swazi Maidens will be brought to the Royal Residence used as windbreakers. Lastly, this ceremony becomes an opportunity for these women to form stronger bonds and unity amongst them.

Zulu Dance Africa.
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