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Zulu Women Dance During The Annual Reed Dance Festival

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Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremony, is an annual Swazi and Zulu event.[1] In Swaziland. As part of the ceremony, the young women dance bare-breasted for their king, and each maiden carries a long reed, which is then deposited as they approach the king.[9] The girls take care to choose only the longest and strongest reeds, and then carry them towering above their heads in a slow procession up the hill to Enyokeni Palace.[5] The procession is led by the chief Zulu princess, who takes a prominent role throughout the festival.[5] If the reed should break before the girl reaches that point, it is considered a sign that the girl has already been sexually active.[9] The ceremony was reintroduced by King Goodwill Zwelethini in 1991, as a means to encourage young Zulu girls to delay sexual activity until marriage.

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