Mongolians celebrate annual Naadam Festival

Wrestling at Naadam Festival
In Mongolia, people celebrate the annual Naadam festival on the grasslands of their home provinces, by holding traditional horse racing, wrestling and archery competitions. All are part of a ritual they hope to preserve in the face of rapid social change. This is a big day for Mongolians. Hundreds of people, many of them nomadic herders, gathered on the vast grasslands to celebrate Naadam, the country’s annual festival of all things Mongolian. They are here to enjoy what they call the "three men’s sports" -- horse-racing, wrestling and archery. A stampede of over 70 Mongolian horses and their jockeys, most of them under the age of ten, raced over ten kilometres before streaking across the finish line in front of a whooping crowd. Battulga Tsogbayar, winner of horse race, said, "Naadam is a tradition passed down from our ancestors to our parents, and it’s organized each year. Coming first in a horse race at Naadam makes my parents happy, and for me that’s the most important thing about Naadam." The other major
Horse Racing at Naadam Festival
draw of Naadam is traditional wrestling. Men of various sizes first mimic eagles in a balletic dance to show their physical prowess, and then try to take each other down in a series of rounds. Instead of gold, silver and bronze, the winner is ranked as Lion, the second as elephant, and the third as hawk. Both horse racing and wrestling are lucrative sports in Mongolia, where they are avidly watched by a people fiercely proud of their traditional nomadic culture. Although rapid economic growth is dramatically changing Mongolia’s traditional nomadic lifestyle, some are still optimistic that Naadam would live on in rural areas. Galtai Mukhbat, nomadic herder, said, "Naadam comes once a year and most people celebrate it in the area they grew up. For example, this year is the 89th anniversary of the founding of our Province, and next year will be the 90th, so I think people from the city will continue to come back to the countryside each year for Naadam." The national Naadam festival kicks off in the capital on July 11 with a grand televised ceremony attended by the Mongolian president. Source: Sam Daily Times

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