More than 20 000 maidens were expected to converge on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Enyokeni Palace in KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday for the annual reed dance festival.

Prince Mbonisi Zulu, brother of Zwelithini, said that this year’s festival was special as it coincided with the king’s 40th anniversary on the throne.

"There will definitely be an item during the festival which will highlight that the king is celebrating 40 years as a king," Zulu said.

During the festival, the maidens would present a reed - symbolising their purity - to the king.