Festivals & Events

Bare-breasted maidens

Mallory Primm
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By far the most well-known and significant festival in Swaziland is the Umhlanga, or Reed Dance. Occurring every year at the end of August or beginning of September, the dance is a way for young women (technically, they need to be virgins) to honor the Queen Mother. The maidens gather reeds to reinforce the Queen Mother’s homestead and then dance bare-breasted and adorned in beaded skirts before the Queen Mother and the King. Often, the King will choose one of the maidens parading before him to be his next wife, although he already has 13.


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