The annual uMkhosi woMhlanga took place in KwaZulu-Natal recently, with thousands of maidens descending on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace outside Nongoma to celebrate their pride and purity.
Security was tight this year as organisers hoped to avoid the kidnappings, rapes, and stampedes of previous years.
According to The Mercury, Nomagugu Ngobese from the Nomkhubulwane Cultural Institute said that 10,000 maidens were expected to attend. There has been some opposition to the tradition of testing the girls' virginity before they are allowed to attend the ceremony, but its popularity has been growing as many parents start to see the value behind it.
Ngobese told The Mercury, "Given the high number of rapes happening within families, many parents now see the value of this ceremony in instilling a culture of good behaviour [in youth] and exposing the abuse of young girls by their relatives."
Meanwhile, the Inkatha Freedom Party lauded the reintroduction of the reed dance and said it had decreased the spread of Aids in South Africa. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi was speaking at King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace, and added that encouraging young people to delay sexual relations until marriage was a tradition which helped to fight the disease.
"Our forbearers never faced the challenge of HIV/Aids but they understood the need to celebrate purity," he said.
It was necessary for the similar standards to be expected from young men.
"We are abolishing the double standard that maidens must be pure, but men must be experienced... that culture breeds shame and disunity."
"In contrast, the ceremony performed here today expresses unity and pride," Buthelezi said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 August 2015 19:07
Written by Lola Balola