Traditional Mongolian festival in the village of Telmen
Naadam is a traditional type of festival in Mongolia. The festival is also called „eriin gurvan naadam“ or „three men's plays“. These games are Mongolian wrestling, horseback riding and archery and take place across the country. Despite the name of the festival, women take part in archery and girls ride horses, but not the Mongol wrestling. The largest festival takes place in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the national holiday of July 11 – 13, but other cities in Mongolia also have their own, albeit smaller, Naadam festivities.
Horse riding - started
Unlike classic races, which are usually short sprints of 2 kilometers, Mongolian horseback riding as part of Nádam is run across the countryside, with races 15–30 km long. Horses are divided into six groups according to age, with the youngest two years old. Riders are children (boys and girls) from 5 to 12 years.
Horseback riding - to the finish
After the races, the first five horses in each category will receive the title of ajrgjin tav and the first three will receive a gold, silver and bronze medal. In addition, the horse that finishes last in the two-year-old category (daga) will also receive a prize for the top five in the belief that it will finish better in the next race.
A traditional Mongolian wrestling is an indefinite competition in which a wrestler loses when he touches the ground. The wrestlers wear a two-piece costume consisting of a tight vest (zodog) and shorts (sudag). The wrestlers are exclusively male. Each wrestler has a helper called zasúl. Zasúl sings a celebratory song to the winning wrestler after the third, fifth and seventh rounds. The absolute winner of the competition is called arslan (lion).
Spectators in the stands
The third competition is archery. Both men and women take part in it. Men fire 40 arrows from a distance of 75 meters, while women fire 20 arrows from a distance of 60 meters.
Mongolian flag over the grandstand
Naadam is the most watched event in the country and is believed to have existed in various forms for centuries. It was originally a religious festival, but today it commemorates the revolution of 1921, when Mongolia declared independence. Another popular activity during Naadam is playing with the help of „shagai“, which are sheep ankle bones, which serve as playing aids as well as symbols of divination and friendship.
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