Who participates in uMkhosi Womhlanga?
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Who participate in the reed dance?!How is the reed dance performed?!What is the purpose of the reed dance in the Zulu culture?!What festivals do Zulus celebrate?!
Year after year, young Zulu girls who are virgins look forward to the Umkhosi WoMhlanga dance where Zulu culture and heritage is celebrated through traditional dance, music, art, and craft.
The dance dates back many years before King Goodwill Zwelithini reintroduced it in 1991.
This traditional event attracts over 30,000 girls from all over KwaZulu-Natal, Botswana, and the Eastern Cape.
Thousands of girls sing traditional Zulu songs while dancing in front of the king. The girls come bare-breasted and wear their traditional beadwork, showing how proud they are of their culture and their virginity. The dress code includes beadwork; izigege, izinculuba, imintsha, anklets, bracelets, necklaces, and colourful sashes.
The aim of the dance is to promote sexual purity until marriage. The girls are groomed from a young age to take pride in their virginity. Elderly women do this grooming.
Then in September, maidens from all over KwaZulu-Natal come in their numbers to the ceremony. This event takes place for five days. It starts at the Zulu Royal Residence – eNyokeni and then proceeds to eMachobeni Royal Residence in Ngwavuma.
One of the most exciting moments during the festivities is the keynote address from the king which encourages the girls to remain virgins until marriage.
The young maidens dance for the king and each girl takes a reed to lay down before the king. The reeds are chosen from the queen mother’s village and the girls carry them towering above their heads to the Enyokeni Palace. When they arrive there, the designated princess leads the procession.
With so many sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, this ceremony helps to ease the problem. It is a sense of national pride and a true symbol of the unity of the Zulu nation. It offers emotional gratification to the girls for keeping their purity.