It is held usually in late August or early September. Well, it just so happens that the Swazis are not the only ones who have such an exotic festival involving the celebration of chastity among young maidens.
While Umhlanga dates back to the 1940s during the reign of King Sobhuza II as an adaptation of an ancient custom called Umcwasho, the Zulu Reed Dance referred to as uMkhosi Womhlanga had its own rebirth in 1991 when it was reintroduced by the King of the Zulus, Godwin Zwelithini
Girls from Zululand and small groups from Swazi land participate in this ceremony. It is an annual event that is held in September.
These girls dress in traditional attires of intricate beadwork and short skirts known as izigege and izinculuba which show their buttocks and breast.
No fabric is worn on the torso leaving the girls topless. Other items of costume include anklets, bracelets, necklaces, and colorful sashes. The colors at the tail of the sash denote if a girl is betrothed or not.
After they have all dropped their reeds, the maidens dance half-naked for the king. This tradition is said to have started in the 40s and required young virgins to dance for the royal king for an opportunity to be chosen as a young bride although there is no confirmation of this information.
They are encouraged on the importance of keeping their virginity, while current social issues such as teenage pregnancies and HIV are discussed.
Strict laws are usually enforced especially regarding photography to discourage people from using them for pornography purposes