Dozens of thousands of "maidens" braved the baking hot sun, which according to Swaziland meteorology services, raised the temperature to above 30 degrees Celsius.
The spirited traditional display -- the annual reed dance -- was witnessed by South African President Jacob Zuma, Botswana President Ian Khama, Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, Namibian President Hage Geingob in the royal capital Lobamba.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders are hosted by King Mswati III for this year’s 36th SADC Heads of States Summit, which was officially opened Tuesday morning.
The Swaziland king will assume chairmanship of the regional organizations from Botswana President Ian Khama.
Immaculate in their dancing skills, the girls swayed and swerved in their colorful traditional regalia while their feet hit the ground to the applause of thousands of spectators who came to watch the traditional event.
The ancient Swazi traditional carnival begins when King Mswati III commissions the maidens to cut reeds in certain areas of the country. The government provides transport to the various locations.
The reeds are used as windbreaks for the Queen Mother's residence.
The girls symbolically cut them to present to their majesties at the Ludzidzini royal residence in the royal capital Lobamba.
The reed dance ceremony is said to encourage maidens to preserve their purity until marriage.
Minister for Tourism and Environmental Affairs Jabulani Mabuza said the ceremony helps the girls receive cultural life skills from elders as well as their peers.
“We have our neighbouring countries also sending their maidens in this great show of Africanism, aiding the exchange of cultures within our region,” he said in a statement.
“On their own intuition and for the love of their culture, maidens freely participate, […] hence the increase in participation,” Mabuza added.
Last year, 13 maidens were killed after the vehicle they were traveling in was involved in an accident.
Nokwanda Dlamini, a Swazi maiden, said she would not be discouraged by last year’s tragedy.
International media have mistakenly associated the reed dance as a ceremony where the Swazi king chooses a wife for himself amongst the maidens.
In fact, the king uses the ceremony to unveil his fiancee -- should he have one to introduce -- to the nation. But he does not do every year.
After 30 years of rule, the only absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa has accumulated 13 wives.
He did not present one this year.
Source- Anadolu Agency