The Royal Reed Dance or better still know in the Zulu dialect as the Umkhosi woMhlanga is a popular festival ceremony for the Zulus in Swaziland, the Republic of South Africa and the Zulu people living in other parts of the southern Africa regions.
The girls gather at the Queen Mother’s royal village, which currently is Ludzidzini Royal Village.
After arriving at the Queen Mother’s royal residence, the women disperse the following night to surrounding areas and cut tall reeds.
The following night they bundle them together and bring them back to the Queen Mother to be used in repairing holes in the reed windscreen surrounding the royal village.
After a day of rest and washing the women prepare their traditional costumes consisting of a bead necklace, rattling anklets made from cocoons, a sash, and skirt. Many of them carry the bush knife they used to cut the reeds as a symbol of their virginity.
Today’s Reed Dance ceremony developed in the 1940s from the Umcwasho custom where young girls were placed in age regiments to ensure their virginity.
Once they reached the age of marriage they would perform labor for the Queen Mother followed by dancing and a feast.
The official purpose of the annual ceremony is to preserve the women’s chastity, provide tribute labour for the Queen Mother, and produce solidarity among the women through working together.