The Zulu virgins are annually displayed or dance around as a rite of passage to womanhood as they go through what they call virginity testing.
Over 45,000 virgin maidens were tested successfully this year in the annual reed dance (Umkhosi Womhlanga) which started at the Enyokeni Palace of King Goodwill Zwelithini on Friday, September 8.
Virginity testing (ukuhlolwa kwezintombi ), an ancient Zulu tradition that is regarded as an important rite of passage to womanhood, was largely neglected by previous Zulu kings until it was revived by King Zwelithini in 1984.
Before embarking on the annual trek to Nongoma‚ the maidens have to be tested by elderly women days before the pilgrimage to Enyokeni or to the Swazi Queen Mother’s Eludzidzini residence. Those who pass the test take pride in their status and are lauded by their community as izintombi nto‚ pure maidens.
According to Sowetan, the idea is that by remaining pure‚ the maidens are safe from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, STDs
More photos after the cut.