Nomkhubulwana and the Girls

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(Zulu/South Africa)

Nomkhubulwana is the daughter of Nkulunkulu, God.

She came out on the same day that man came out of the earth. She orders the children to be weaned, tells the people when they will have a year of plenty. She presides over the growth of corn.

This princess in heaven, Nomkhubulwana, heavenly princess, occasionally visits the cornfields and causes them to bear abundantly. For this princess, the people often set apart a small piece of cultivated land as an offering. One day is appointed especially for girls: they go out to the hills, fasting. They spend the entire day weeping, fasting, and praying, thinking that the more they fast and weep the more likely they are to be pitied by the princess. On that day, they wear men's clothing made of skins, and all men and boys are to keep out of their way, neither speaking to them nor looking at them. They start very early: at sunrise, they must be by the riverside, prepared to begin praying and weeping. They dig deep holes in the sand, and two or three girls sit in each of them. The holes are filled until nothing but the girls' heads show above the ground. There they remain, weeping and praying for some time. Girls about six years old are generally chosen for this purpose. Later, the older girls help them out and let them run home. The older girls then go to the mountains and weep. Then they go to their gardens, around which they walk, crying out to the princess to have pity on them and give them a good harvest. At sunset, they return to their homes and break their fast.

Subjects: Religion.

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