There are many festivals around the world that celebrate seasonal fruit and others that focus on beer, but in the scenic kingdom of Swaziland the two come together in a special celebration – the Marula Festival.
The Marula Festival is one of Swaziland’s most exciting traditional ceremonies. The harvest festivities coincide with marula season, which begins in mid-February and runs through to May. The fruit is distilled into a beer, known as Buganu or Marula beer, and the entire nation joins in on this celebration.
Every year, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Indlovukazi visit different parts of the Kingdom to celebrate the start of the marula season. The biggest of these festivals is held in the Hhohho region at Ebuhleni, where their Majesties join the nation in song and dance.
Although the marula fruit can be found almost anywhere in Africa, its popularity is highest in Swaziland. Their Majesties are presented with Marula gifts from each household (a fruit fit for a king) and only after this can Swazis drink this beer.
Ruled over by King Mswati 111, this peaceful Kingdom is rapidly becoming a traveller’s favourite on the trail through Southern Africa. Swaziland is the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, yet there is a surprisingly diverse landscape – with dramatic mountains, spectacular valleys and prolific game reserves that offer the visitor a wide range of adventure activities.
The beauty of the Swazi culture can be best seen at this festival as it is a combination of all the Swazi traditions. People from far and wide beyond Swaziland’s borders come to this festival to witness the Marula Festival, as it gets more popular every year!
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* photo by Kaye Holder – Intrepid Photography Competition