Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mongolian Naadam Festival


 

Naadam games  is a traditional type of festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) "the three games of men". The three manly games were considered to be the essential skills that men should possess in ancient times. They needed to obtain these abilities to defeat the enemies. Each year, nomadic people from the outlying valleys come to join the festivities and thousands of wrestlers, horses and archers compete in Naadam throughout Mongolia. The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during the midsummer holidays. 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. 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 play.

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.
Before the races begin, the audience sings traditional songs and the jockeys sing a song called Gingo. Prizes are awarded to horses and jockeys. The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyn tav and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals

Mongolian archery is unique for having not only one target, but hundreds of beadrs or 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 "bulls eye". The winners of the contest are granted the titles of "national marksman" and "national markswoman"
For more information about Naadam Festival please email China Holidays at sales@ChinaHolidays.com or check our website at www.ChinaHolidays.co.uk

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