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eSwatini Reed Dance, the Dance of 100,000 Virgins

Created with Sketch. Lobamba, eSwatini
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Duration

3 Days

Tour Type

Specific Tour

Group Size

8 people

Languages

English

Overview

Every year at Umhlanga, known more commonly in English as the eSwatini (Swaziland) Reed Dance Festival, thousands of unmarried women and girls pay homage to the King and the royal family in an eight-day ceremony full of dancing, rites and rituals. According to local newspaper reports, more than 100,000 girls... More

Every year at Umhlanga, known more commonly in English as the eSwatini (Swaziland) Reed Dance Festival, thousands of unmarried women and girls pay homage to the King and the royal family in an eight-day ceremony full of dancing, rites and rituals.
According to local newspaper reports, more than 100,000 girls and women from all over Swaziland, as well as Swazi girls from South Africa and other neighboring countries, participate in the festivities.
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.
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.
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 symbolic meaning. When dancing on the last day, they will hold a knife in one hand and a shield in the other.

Less

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Even though it’s referred to as the “reed dance festival”, dancing takes place only on the sixth and seventh days of the eight-day annual reed dance ceremony.
  • Most tourists will probably not be interested in staying for the whole duration of the ceremony, as the rest of it is not as visually spectacular.
  • Also, the girls don’t actually carry the reeds while they are dancing. They have already presented them to the Queen Mother by that point.
  • The festival takes place in the royal stadium, within the grounds of the Royal Residence in Lobamba. The Reed Dance is one of the very rare occasions when the Royal Residence is open to the public.
  • Lobamba is located in the Ezulwini Valley, just a short drive from Mbabane – the capital of Swaziland.

Itinerary

Day 1
Day 1

This is the first day of dancing, which takes place from about 3pm to 5pm. First, the girls present their reeds to the Queen Mother, leaving them outside her residence as a form of tribute labor. They then march to the stadium and perform their dance, each regiment singing a different song.

Day 2
Day 2

This is the second and final day of dancing. This time, the King is present. Traditionally, he chooses a new wife from among the dancers, although the last time he did this was in 2013. The King already has 15 wives and 35 children.

Day 3
Day 3

The King issues a command for about 20 to 25 cows to be slaughtered. Each girl collects a piece of meat from the slaughtered cows and then returns home.

Included/Excluded

  • Accommodation as per itinerary
  • Entrance fees
  • National Park fees
  • Breakfast
  • Driver/guide
  • Professional guide at specialist venues
  • Transport by private vehicle
  • Excess luggage charges (where applicable)
  • Meals, lunch and dinner
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Activities indicated as optional
  • Food and drinks, unless specified
  • Gratuities (recommended)
  • Travel insurance; Flights; Airport transfers; Porterage
  • Visa fees

Languages

English

Tour's Location

Created with Sketch. Lobamba, eSwatini

FAQs

Where will I stay?
Legends Backpacker Lodge with some private rooms as well as dormitories.
It’s close to The Gables shopping center, which contains a large supermarket and several restaurants, including Chinese and Middle Eastern restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options.
Cancellation Policy:
Cancellation 60 days or more before departure: Amount paid less upfront costs. These upfront costs are disclosed to you when you use the Site to complete the transaction and may represent expenses for accommodation bookings, tickets, transportation deposits and other additional expenses.
Cancellation 59 to 31 days before departure: 50% of tour price, if paid in full.
Cancellation less than 30 days before the start of the tour: 100% cancellation fee. (no refund)
You are strongly encouraged to obtain cancellation insurance.
In certain circumstances, this will cover the cost of cancellation.

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