Initially, the rite was observed when a girl reached the stage of menstruation or puberty. However, if neglected it can be done later as custom demands its observance, even after marriage.
Today it is commonly done by women older than that and even by married women who already have children.
It seeks to teach a girl about the proper and important aspects of womanhood, preparing her for a life of marriage and the responsibilities and rights of being a wife, a mother and a leader.
The intonjane ceremony has three segments, umngeno (joining), umtshatiso wentonjane (slaughter of cow) and the final stage umgidi (welcoming home ceremony).
The custom makes a girl identify with the meaning of womanhood through physical, spiritual, emotional and social experiences.