Watch: Zulu 'bare-breasted maiden' dance revived first time since Covid
Following the coronation of newly crowned King Misuzulu kaZwelithini last month, thousands of people flocked to the first reed dance festival since the Covid epidemic in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday (September 3).
During the celebration, female dancers participated in the ceremonial while holding reeds in the air. The celebration, which featured speeches, dancing, and singing, was hosted by the Zulu royal family.
In the KwaZulu-Natal region, thousands of bare-breasted maidens perform the reed dance in front of the monarch to honour their beauty and virginity. The tradition was resurrected in 1984 by the late Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
Zwelithini responded to criticism by stating that his choice had a positive impact on the prevention of AIDS and premarital sex.
All of the girls participating in the ceremony are often required to submit to a virginity test.
However, a law was enacted in South Africa prohibiting virginity testing for girls under the age of 16 and only allowing it under certain restrictions for those over 16 in July 2007.
Ancient peoples rebuilt the fence around the royal kraal, or homestead, using the reeds carried by the females during the event. Any reed that breaks while being brought to the king, according to the Zulu, indicates that the female carrying it was not a virgin.