Local Naadam festivals

Local Naadam festivals

Visiting local Naadam is always enjoyable firsthand experience for travelers where you will have exclusive opportunities to meet jokey children and wrestlers. All Mongolian 21 provinces even 365 small villages have own local Naadam festival and normally happened another days of Grand Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar. Also there have big Naadam festival to celebrate anniversary of the provinces and towns.

The tradition and all activities of Local Naadam are same with Grand Naadam festival. Only difference is number of participants or racing horses, archers and wrestlers. But it is a golden opportunity to see Nadaam ceremonies from the closest distance, away from the crowds. You can get truly involved and have the chance to take part in some activities, as well as capturing all the excitement on your camera.

Opening ceremony of Local Naadam Festival

At the stadium and huge wide nature festival is held including hundreds of hospitality nomad people and children dressed with Mongolian traditional clothes. Normally Local Naadam begins with speech of head of provinces or towns. The combination of people and events presents unforgettable spectacle to the visitors and bring herders into the towns and their environs from isolated encampments to gatherings where they have the opportunity to participate in the events, to barter, flirt, mix, sing and enjoy life to the full.

Horse racing: The most impressive spectacle is surely the horse racing. The horses cover different distances according to their age. Azarga (stallions), Ikh nas (horses more than 5 years old), Soyolon(5-year olds), Khyazaalan (4-year olds), Shudlen (3-year olds) and Daaga (colts to 2 years old). There are no limits on the number of horses participating; usually approximately 200 horses in each race. The five winning horses are honored with a cup of mare’s milk (airag) on their neck, a khadag (respectful blue scarf) and a medal. Also their trainers are honored with title of “Aldart uyach” (Famous trainer). Horses that finishes last of each race is given the title ‘’Bayan khodood’’ (full stomach), in the hope that it may be more successful next year.

Wrestling: Normally 128 wrestlers fight for town’s Naadam and 256 wrestlers fight for province Naadam festival in the stadium. The rules are very simple: The wrestling area is unrestricted; there are no weight-classes and the one who touches the ground the any part of the body, other than the feet, has lost. The winner continues to the next round. A wrestler, who defeats 5 partners, is given the title “Nachin” (means Falcon); after next one more wins, he is promoted to “Khartsaga” (means Hawk); and ultimate winner of the competition is called to “Zaan” (means Elephant) in  town Naadam and in province Naadam have one more round and highest title is Arslan or Lion. At the beginning of the third, fifth and seventh rounds of the match, the trainers sing praises to the wrestlers of their group, and of the titles that they have previously won. The winning wrestler imitated the flight of an eagle, swinging his arms around and touches the muscles of his legs with his hands. The wrestlers wear tight pants and a small vest with arms across the shoulders, which barely cover their well-trained bodies. An old legend says that a woman once won the fight.

Archery: Mongols are almost born with the archery skills, an integral part of nomads’ lifestyle. From the very childhood such qualities as perfect eyesight, measurement, patience and strength are nourished to develop a good archer. Mongolian bows are very tight ones, so that it requires a pure strength to stretch it out. As a rule, several teams of archers compete. Each team of 5-7 archers should hit 33 leather cylinders from a distance of 75 meters. The team, beating out first all cylinders qualifies for the next round with the number of targets sharply reduced. The last round involves only three cylinders. During the tournament, judges stand in two sides next to the target. Each time, an archer prepares for a shot; they would start slowly the so called Uukhai song. As soon as the arrow hits the target, the song's melody changes and an experienced archer immediately learns about how many cylinders were hit.

1. Tuv (central) Aimag (1931) Zuunmod

2. Ovorkhangai Aimag (1931) Arvaikheer

3. Arkhangai Aimag (1931) Tsetserleg

4. Khuvsgul Aimag (1931) Moron

5. Zavkhan Aimag (1931) Uliastai

6. Bulgan Aimag  (1938) Bulgan

7. Orkhon Aimag (1994) Erdenet

8. Selenge Aimag (1934) Sukhbaatar

9. Darkhan-Uul Aimag (1994) Darkhan

10. Khovd Aimag (1931) Khovd

11. Bayan-Olgii Aimag (1940) Olgii

12. Uvs Aimag (1931) Ulaangom

13. Khentii Aimag (1931) Ondorkhaan

14. Sukhbaatar Aimag (1942) Baruun-urt

15. Dornod Aimag (1941) Choibalsan

16. Omnogobi Aimag (1931) Dalanzadgad

17. Dundgobi Aimag (1942) Mandalgobi

18. Dornogobi Aimag (1931) Sainshand

19. Gobi-Sumber Aimag (1994) Choir

20. Gobi-Altai Aimag (1940) Altai

21. Bayankhongor Aimag (1941) Bayankhongor

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