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Naadam: Traditional Culture Festival of Mongolia

The proud Mongols are truly example of brave nomadic people wandering in the vast grasslands and meadows of Mongolia for thousands of years. When we say thousands of years, we mean it because the existence of this heroic race along with their nomadic lifestyle is proved through the archaeological discoveries that suggest their living in Mongolia for almost 70,000 years.

Mongols have tremendous historic and pre historic background and their unique living style and tartar attitude towards life have given birth to the amazing customs and traditions. In this short essay, we shall try to cover the most important traditional festival of Mongolia, known as Naadam and it is celebrated throughout Mongolia in the Summer holidays. Naadam, the traditional festival of Mongolia is locally known as ‘eriin gurvan naadam‘  which means ‘The three Games of Men‘. These three contentious games of Naadam include Mongolian wrestlingHorse racing and Archery and as it is obvious from the nature of these sports, a lot of toil and sweat is involved in these events. The biggest festival is organized in Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the famous National Sports Stadium of the Mongolian capital.

Naadam, the traditional festival of Mongolia

Mongolian wrestling is purely a manly challenge. In these competitions more than 500 wrestlers participate from whole of Mongolia. This wrestling is fought in typical and traditional Mongolian style and it is comprised of 9-10 rounds. The wrestlers play the qualifying rounds which are held at the district levels and ultimately the winners emerge in the finals. The traditional wrestling costume consists of the shoulder vest (zodog) and the shorts (shuudag). The format of the finals is of knock-out type which is indeed very tough which requires lots of skills and excellence. The winning wrestlers get the titles like Falcons, Elephants, Lions and Giants.

The traditional Mongol wrestling of Naadam festival

The second fascinating game of Naadam festival is horse racing which is classified into six categories with horses being two, three, four and six years old. The distances are also determined in accordance with the age of the contesting horses. The traditional and folk music is played during the race.

Naadam Horse Race - Photo : Bruno Morandi

Basically the skills of the horses are keenly observed in this traditional Mongolian derby and the horses are decorated in amusing ways.  These horses are also sprinkled with koumyss which is a kind of fermented mare’s milk. These horses are fed with very delicate diet and they go through very hard training sessions. The best five horses from every category achieve the title of airgiyn tav and the first three are rewarded with gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Women archers Naadam

The Archery is the final sports event of Naadam festival and it is comparatively less enthusiastic in the sense that it is attended mainly by the Mongolian states personals. The conventional bows and arrows are used by the participants in the contest which are prepared in the centuries old traditional way. Both men and women take part in the Archery competition and the winners of the contest are granted the titles of ‘national marksman‘ and ‘national markswoman‘.

Mongols enjoying the Nadaam festival

Naadam, the traditional festival of Mongolia actually represents the identitiy of the audacious Mongol nation. The Mongols attend this festival with lots of enthusiasm and they consider it as a symbol of national pride and integrity. Their presence in the event with traditional Mongolian costumes make the event so phenomenal and unforgettable.

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