Epic, Extraordinary, Marvelous, Magnificent, Spectacular, Incredible, Breathtaking, Inspirational, and Beautiful are just a few of the words I would use to describe this year's Reed Dance in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
Reed Dance or Umhlanga is known as Swaziland's biggest cultural event. It is a ceremony that celebrates the purity of girls and women in the community who are unmarried and without children. I got the opportunity to attend and experience this tradition as a local, staying on the grounds at the Ludzidzini Royal Residence where tens of thousands of girls journeyed to bring cut reeds that are presented to the Queen Mother as a sign of protection.
The ladies were presented before His Majesty King Mswati III on the last two days of the ceremony which included dancing and celebration. The backdrop included clear skies and Swaziland's beautiful mountains. This unforgettable experience displayed the pride that this small nation has for its customs and heritage. I was overwhelmed by the visual display of solidarity as the nation came together to support the ladies and pay allegiance to their King.
People from all over the world come to witness this spectacular event which is one of the few cultural events that allows outsiders. I don't really have the words to describe what the event means to its people and how it felt to be a part of it. You can read an official release on the Reed Dance ceremony or Umhlanga from the Kingdom of Swaziland Website.
I tried to capture some of the feelings with photos but it doesn't even come close to the actual experience that you would need to witness for yourself.
Would you attend the Reed Dance?