In August or early September each year The Umhlanga (or Reed Dance) takes place. It is announced during the end of the August, by the elders of the country, according to the position of the moon and the stars. With the start of the reed dance, soft rain begins to fall. It is a ceremony, which attracts young maidens from every corner of the Kingdom of Swaziland and parts of South Africa and provides the occasion for them to honor and pay homage to the Queen Mother (iNdlovukazi).
The girls who must be virgins and older than 13 are flanked by male supervisors dressed in animal-skin loin cloths with traditional porcupine quills in their hair.
The girls wear short beaded skirts decorated with fringes and buttons; together with anklets, bracelets and necklaces, and colorful sashes. Each sash has appendages of different colored wool streamers; these denote whether or not the maiden is betrothed (promised to marry) and which regiment ( group) she belongs too. The red feathers in their hair recognize the Royal Family Princesses. They lead the maidens to perform for the King and Queen. Each group has its own particular dance steps and song which marks their respect for the Monarch and his mother. It is not uncommon for the King to choose another wife during this Ceremony.
Many of the girls carry torches and knives to indicate that they had cut the reeds at night.Although it is an ancient tradition that has similarities to other tribes of the African continent, modern maidens seem to enjoy the yearly camp. Homesteads along the reed-cutting route provide shelter and slaughter a beast(Cow) for the occcasion. The women are guarded on all sides by the women’s police force and members of the Umbutfo (the Kings traditional Men’s Regiment). The
Mswati has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in abject poverty. Critics say he sets a bad example by encouraging polygamy and teenage sex in a country where 40 percent of adults live with HIV. But many Swazis say the young monarch has a right to do as he pleases, arguing ceremonies like the Reed Dance cement national identity.
So ladies if you are single and want to live a nice life as a Queen, have money, be rich, have a BMW and dont mind being a statistic to the Swazi King well then the reed dance festival is worth a try.