Eswatini (Swaziland) - 2019

Umhlanga, or Reed Dance ceremony, is an annual Swazi and Zulu event in Eswatini - formerly called Swaziland.
Swazi girl  In the eight-day ceremony, young girls cut reeds, present them to the Queen Mother (Indlovukazi). September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  The event takes place around the last week of August / first week of September in the Lobamba area. September 2, 2019 Beautiful smiles  The proper festivities of the Umhlanga Reed Dance kick off on day six, when dancing gets under way in the afternoon. September 2, 2019 Singing maidens  Up close, it’s an almost overwhelming immersion in noise and colour, as the girls stamp, sing and sway in step, anklets rattling, naked flesh and dazzling costume blurring into a living, chanting kaleidoscope.  September 2, 2019
Reed Dance Festival  In Eswatini, tens of thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi girls and women travel from the various chiefdoms to the Ludzidzini Royal Village to participate in the eight-day event.  September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  Little can prepare you for the sheer scale of the pageantry, with column upon column of girls advancing like vast ululating centipedes across the parade grounds of Ludzidzini. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  I was lucky being able to get up close to the Royal grounds of the Kingdom, being able to have some great shots (pictures taken with permission of the girls). September 2, 2019 Mediia ladies  As I arrived well ahead of the start, I had some time to mingle with the locals to understand more of their colourful culture. September 2, 2019
Swazi ladies  I had just 2 nights, 1 full day in Eswatini before I had to fly back home via Johannesburg and Addis Ababa - a 27-hour journey away. September 2, 2019 Princesses  Maidens being decorated with feathers on their heads are called Princesses. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  People visiting the annual Reed Dance are allowed to take photographs on Days 6 and 7 (main day) – as the maidens walk to deliver the reeds to the Royal Residence, and then as they dance in the main arena. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Festival 2019  The girls gather at the Queen Mother’s royal village on the first day of the festival. September 2, 2019
Young Girls  The event offers the visitor a unique experience. There are no special visitor arrangements as one can just walk in free of charge. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  Decorated with beads and bright colourfull sarongs. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  The girls cut their reeds, usually about ten to twenty, using long knives. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  A beautiful decorated young lady marching to the Royal grounds.
Reed Dance-39 Reed Dance 2019  It’s Eswatini’s biggest holiday and, after days of tramping the hillsides, cutting reeds and camping out, the girls are determined to party. September 2, 2019 Swazi girls  The Swaziland Reed Dance, also known as the Umhlanga Festival, is one of the most spectacular sights in Africa.  September 2, 2019 Reed Dance-42  Swazi maidens singing as they march towards the stadium on day 6 of the Umhlanga festivities. September 2, 2019
Warriors  The warrior escorts, adorned with cow tails and clutching knob-stick and shield, are sternly intent on their duties and seem contemptuous of tourists, but the girls are all smiles. September 2, 2019 Swaziland girls  The Swaziland Reed Dance, or the Dance of 100,000 Virgins. September 2, 2019 His Majesty the King  In my own country, I never had the opportunity to see the King, but during this festival I had the chance of taking a close-up picture of Swaziland's King Mswati III. September 2, 2019 What time is it ?  Swazi warrior checking the time to be on schedule. September 2, 2019
Reed Dance 2019  The older girls often march about 30 kilometres, while the younger girls march about ten kilometres. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  The Umhlanga, a Swazi cultural tradition that celebrates chastity and virginity, attracts tens of thousands of women from across the country. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  This year, a whopping 100,000 girls from across Eswatini gathered at the Umhlanga Reed Dance. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  The exact dates of the Festival are announced just a few weeks before the event, making it a wild guess to book your flight ticket. However, it usually happens the end of august or the beginning of september. Thankfully, as a lover of Festivals around the planet, I had chosen the right weekend well in advance. September 2, 2019
Eswatini  The maidens wear anklets, bracelets, necklaces, and colourful sashes. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  People that participate in this event are girls who are not married and are still virgin. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  The girls don’t actually carry the reeds while they are dancing. They have already presented them to the Queen Mother by that point. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Swazi maidens singing as they march towards the stadium on day 6 of the Umhlanga festivities. September 2, 2019
Reed Dance  The Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival last for 8 days, being day 7 the most important as the King will be present. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  Three beautiful African young ladies marching to the royal grounds of the arena. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Thousands upon thousands of maidens dress up in brightly coloured attire and sing, dance together as they deliver the reed or umlanga to the Royal Residence. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Their enjoyment of this ceremony is quite apparent as they use the opportunity of bonding with girls of similar ages from across the country. September 2, 2019
Warrior  A Swazi warrior on the look. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Festival 2019  The girls are separated into two groups, the older (about 14 to 22 years) and the younger (about 8 to 13 years).  September 2, 2019 Tema  Tema, the lovely host that escorted me through the entire cultural event, explaining the meaning of Umhlanga. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Today the Umhlanga is as well attended as ever. September 2, 2019
Young boy  The sun had gone down already when the festival becomes to its final stage. September 2, 2019 Eswatini  This Swazi cultural event is performed as a tribute to the Royal Family and dates back centuries in time. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  The King sometimes makes use of the occasion to publically court a prospective fiancee or Liphovela.  September 2, 2019 Warriors  Swaziland is by accompanying the traditional Swazi regiment, made up of “warriors” called emabutfo (multiple warriors) or umbutfo (one warrior). Emabutfo are a highly respected group of Swazis, both highly respected by not only society but also by the King.  September 2, 2019
Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival  Other possible costume elements include a whistle, bird feathers worn in the hair, and colored tassels hanging from the umgaco, all of which hold special symbol. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  The reed dance is held at the Royal Palace Enyokeni in Nongoma, in September annually, King Zwelithini, implemented this dance to fight HIV and AIDS transmission. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  At a minimum, all the girls will wear a sash called an umgaco and a small skirt called an indlamu. The girls are discouraged from wearing any underwear underneath the indlamu. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Thousands of girls attend this reed dance annually, just because it promotes high self-esteem to females and also to wait for the right time with their intimate partner. September 2, 2019
Umhlanga Reed Dance  The daughter of the King dancing solo at the arena. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  The costume that the girls wear varies according to their social status. The costumes of girls from the royal family are more elaborate than those worn by the other girls. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Reed Dance 2019  Swaziland without Umhlanga is just not Swaziland. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  Young girl joining in the fun that is the Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival. September 2, 2019
Reed Dance 2019  The Reed Dance festival has been tirelessly celebrated by countless generations, and attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the country and from across the world these days. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance 2019  For visitors to KwaZulu-Natal, the Reed Dance festival offers the unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and majesty of the Kingdom of the Zulu, combined with the vibrant spectacle of Zulu cultural life. September 2, 2019 Reed Dance  Young boy, or is it a girl ? - september 2, 2019 Reed dance  Dressed traditionally, this guy walking up the steps to the highest position of the tribune. September 2, 2019
Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival 2019  Once a year, in the heart of South Africa's Kingdom of the Zulu, thousands of people make the long journey to one of His Majesty’s, the King of the Zulu nation's royal residence at KwaNyokeni Palace. September 2, 2019 Reed dance 2019  Dressed up ladies watching the spectacle of the Reed Dance Festival. September 2, 2019 Umhlanga Festival 2019  A dignified traditional ceremony, the Reed Dance festival is at same time a vibrant, festive occasion, which depicts the rich cultural heritage of the Kingdom of the Zulu and celebrates the proud origin of the Zulu people. September 2, 2019 Having a picture  Many youngsters asked me for a picture.  September 2, 2019