The Great Naadam Festival - Biggest National Holiday of Mongolia

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Naadam Festival

Mongolians has being celebrated its the Great Naadam Festival annually on July 11-12, since 1921. The Naadam festival is the biggest and most joyful celebration test of courage, strength, dexterity, and marksmanship of the nomads. It takes place on the 11-12th of July each year. The festival originated from the era of Khunnu Empire and was originally organized as a competition to test the skills of Mongolian Warriors of different tribes. The festival comprises the "Three Manly Sports": wrestling, horse racing and archery. The race is over 30 km in distance and is raced by young riders some as young as six years old. Wresting starts with traditional “eagle dance” that is supposed to lift the wrestlers spirit. Archery dates back to the times of Chinggis Khaan’s warriors. People also compete in ankle bone shooting.

A fascinating and interesting event for all is where the 9 White Flags of Chinghis Khan are carried in a ceremonial parade from the State Parliament House to the Central Stadium. 512-1024 wrestlers compete on the green field of the State Central Stadium-there is no time limit, no weight category. There are 6 different categories of horse racing depending on the age of horses. Archery, originating from time immemorial, is the oldest sport of the Mongols. Traditionally, this was only men's sport but nowadays both men and women compete in separate divisions. 

Horseracing: In average, 400 horses of six age categories, or 2400 horses participate in a 2-day horseracing in Ulaanbaatar. It is surprising that 26000 horses, including local smaller Naadam horses participate in a race all over the country. The horses race for 15-35 km putting forth all strength. Hardening a horse for a race requires experience and patience.  

Wrestling: 512-1024 wrestlers compete in the State Naadam wrestling contest, while 32-128 wrestlers participate in local smaller Naadams. The Mongols revere strength since the early times, and boys begin wrestling as soon as they start walking. There’s no weight category and no fixed arena in Mongolian wrestling, which makes it more challenging and competitive.
Archery: Archery is an integral part of the highlights in the history of the Mongols. In the 13th century every family had bows and arrows in addition to horse-head fiddle. Not only men but also women used to shoot with bow and arrow. It is recorded that Genghis Khan’s warrior Esunkhei Mergen hit a target at 330 fathoms (approx. 520 meters) at a celebration just after they had conquered a part of China. Nowadays, the standard shooting distance for men archers is 75 m while it is 60 m for the ladies, men shoot 40 and ladies shoot 20 arrows at the Naadam.   

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