Naadam, the Festival of the Three Manly Sports, is celebrated each summer in towns across Mongolia. Naadam is one of the most ancient festivals in Mongolia and it is celebrated widely for nearly a month all over the country. Each region celebrates it on different dates.
Three manly games of Naadam, wrestling, horse racing and arching, were originally created to test the stamina, strength and mastery of nomads. The horses race for 15-30 km in six age groups. This July Mongolians will commemorate the 1921 Mongolian revolution at the 2014 National Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar.
The festival is also locally termed “eriin gurvan naadam” (эрийн гурван наадам) “the three games of men”. The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.
512 or 1024 wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hand. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his own opponent. Wrestlers wear two-piece costumes consisting of a tight shoulder vest (zodog) and shorts (shuudag). Only men are allowed to participate.
Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2 km, Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles.
Up to 1000 horses from any part of Mongolia can be chosen to participate. Race horses are fed a special diet.
Children from 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys who train in the months preceding the races. While jockeys are an important component, the main purpose of the races is to test the skill of the horses.
Mongolian archery is unique for having not only one target, but hundreds of surs on a huge wall. In this competition both men and women participate. It is played by ten-men/women teams who are given four arrows each; the team has to hit 33 “surs”. Men fire their arrows from 75 meters away while women fire theirs from 65 meters away. When the archer hits the target the judge says uuhai which means “hooray”. The winners of the contest are granted the titles of “national marksman” and “national markswoman”.
Many tour companies offer Mongolian Tours that include parts of the Naadam festivities in cities around the country. Here are some examples:
Information via wikipedia!
July 1, 2014
Events take place in cities throughout Mongolia.