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Mongolian culture

 

Mongolian Naadam Festival

Mongolian Naadam Festival

The biggest festival is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Other cities and towns across Mongolia and those with significant Mongolian populations and population in China, have their own, smaller scale Naadam celebrations. It begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling that followed the celebration of various occasions. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

 

Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep knuckles that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Naadam festivals, tournaments may take place in a separate venue.

Horse Racing

Horse Racing

Mongolians loved horse racing for over 21 centuries. In modern times, horse racing is mainly held during Naadam Festival and Lunar New Year. Riders are kids from age 5 to 12. There are six categories of horse racing, depending on the age of the horses; Shudlen a two-year-old horse will race for 15km while six-year-old azarga and ikh nas horses race for up to 30km. There is no special track but just open countryside. Before a race, the riders sing an ancient song –Gyngoo for the horses wishing for strength and speed and audience all decked out in traditional finery. Some riders prefer saddle and some not. The winner is declared tumnii ekh, or ‘leader of 10 thousand’ and the five winning horses are admired and the riders drink some special airag and sprinkles on the horse’s back. After the races, praise-singer extols the best riders and their horses and 5 winning horses and theirs owners would be talked about in reverence by the crowd.

Wrestling

Wrestling

Mongolian wrestling has no weight divisions, so mostly the biggest wrestlers are often the best. The wrestlers are divided into 2 sides and it begins with zasuul honoring the glorious titled wrestlers to each other by their unique sounded speech and while wrestlers do short eagle dance by putting hand at the shoulder of the zasuul.  Wrestler wears gutul heavy big boots, shuudag tight unflattering pants and zodog open-fronted and long sleeved small vest across the shoulders. Winners are bestowed glorious titles depending on how many rounds they win. There are nachin (falcon) – 5 rounds; khartsaga (hawk) – 6 rounds; zaan (elephant) – 7 rounds; garid (the Garuda) – 8 rounds and arslan (lion) – given to the winner of the tournament. When an arslan wins 2 years in a row he becomes an avarga, or titan. One renowned wrestler was given the most prestigious and lengthy title of the ‘Eye-Pleasing Nationally Famous Mighty and Invincible Giant’. All titles signify strength and are given during the national festival Naadam. There is a variety of wrestling methods and some elders say there are hundreds of them. Mongolians are really excellent at wrestling, riding and archery.

Archery

Archery

Today, Mongolians use less complicated form of archery than in the ancient times; targeting at cork cylinders braided together with leather straps. It is four meters in line and 50cm high. The target is placed on the ground at a distance of 75 meters for men and 60 meters for women. In the past, Mongolians used three types of bows; “big hand” (165-170cm),”average hand” (160cm), “small hand' (150cm). Today Mongolians mostly use the average hand bow, which requires a force of 22 to 38kg to draw.

Arrows are made of pine wood and feather fins allowing it to reach distance of 900 meters. Naadam archery also attracts individual archers as well as team of 8-12 persons. Male archer shoots forty arrows at each target. Traditionally dressed judges stand by the targets raising their hands in the air to indicate the quality of the shot with uukhai sound but surprisingly never get injured. They praise the best shot in a traditional drawing recitative voice.

Tours that include this attraction

Just Naadam Festival

3 days

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Classic Naadam Festival

8 days

Starting from 2074money_unit

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