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Naadam Festivals
Naadam Festivals
Naadam Festivals


The Naadam - The Three Manly Games

It is a festival and a national holiday that today celebrates Mongolia's independence from China. It takes place every year on July 11 and 12 in Ulaanbaatar, and consists of the three traditional Mongolian sports: archery, horse racing and Mongolian wrestling. Since 1998, a fourth game has been added to them: The throwing of bones (shagai). Following the capital's Naadam, are held at each aimag and many regional and local Naadam sums.

The Naadam is said to have been founded in 1207 by Genghis Khan and continued throughout the existence of the Mongol Empire. This festival was restored in 1921 during the independence of Mongolia.

The horse race
Naadam Festivals

Horses are given different names depending on their age:

унага (unaga): Foal

даага (daaga): 2 year old colt

шүдлен (tsüdlen): Three-year-old horse

хязаалан (khyazaalan): Four-year-old horse

соёолон (soëolon): Five-year-old horse

их нас (ikh nas): Six years and over

The race is about 25km long The first five finishers, cheered by the spectators, are winners. They are called airgiin tav (the five of the airag), while the last of the race of young foals (daaga) is called "rich stomach". All 6 are sprayed with airag and receive praise. Shamanic rites accompany the races. Buddhist rites were rarely observed there. On the other hand, among the many praises given to horses during these ceremonies, some imprint elements with Buddhist symbols.

The race is practiced by children from 6 to 12 years old, boys or girls. The defeat of the losing horse (the rich stomach) is put on the back of bad luck, the inexperience of the rider, or the bad preparation by the trainer, never on the horse whose qualities will always be put forward. Other than that, riders, usually the children of breeders, informally trained for the month before the race are not actually considered in the races. It is on the training of the horse that the attention is mainly paid. The honor goes above all to the horses and the trainers.

Mongolian wrestling

Mongolian wrestling, or bökh, is considered one of the three manly sports of Mongolia. It is distinguished from other wrestling by the absence of weight divisions. The goal is simply to force the opponent to put one knee, back, or butt to the ground, using any of the traditional moves (mekh).

Some fights can last over 3 hours if neither wrestler falls.

The archery

In the 13th century, at the time of Genghis Khan, archery was considered the national sport of Mongolia.

Until the 19th century, only the descendants of kings, nobles and the rich took part in this competition.

Today, archery is open to everyone, especially women. The objective is to hit a target located 75-80m away.

Tsagaan sar - The Mongolian Lunar New Year

Tsagaan sar.jpeg

The Tsagaan Sar is the Mongolian New Year, it sometimes falls on the same day as the Chinese New Year, but there is often a difference of a few days. The "White Month" begins with the rising new moon. The night before the day of Tsagaan Sar is called Bituun, the Mongolian name for New Year's Eve. This feast is the occasion for family gatherings and ritual offerings.

Traditions of Tsagaan sar

All Mongolians spend Bituun evening with their families, eating as much as possible in order to ensure a “rich” year to come. For the same reason, everyone is careful to dress in new and as beautiful clothes as possible. Ritual offerings are made on the morning of Tsagaan Sar, just outside the yurt, and near the ovoos. During the whole week following Tsagaan Sar,

the cadets respectfully greet their elders in a hug where they support their arms. These meetings also give rise to the traditional exchange of snuff boxes, filled with snuff. All Mongolians visit family and friends to say goodbye, this is a time when everyone is on the move a lot.

Culinary specialties of Tsagaan Sar

Tsagaan Sar being a period of intense conviviality and social life, each family prepares several days in advance hundreds of buuz, the traditional meat dumplings that they will offer to friends who come to present their wishes. . A large amount of meat is also eaten there, usually mutton and fatty. As on the occasion of a wedding or the arrival of a distinguished guest, a whole sheep is boiled and its head is presented on a large dish. The rump is considered the best part there. The traditional table of Tsagaan Sar also includes a kind of mounted piece, the Shiniin Idee, consisting of an odd number of layers of cookies called sole cakes (“two layers of happiness to frame a layer of misfortune” according to Mongolian beliefs) , covered with sweets.

The Tsagaan sar festival being very popular among the nomads, the Lamaist Church was forced to integrate it into its own system. After the establishment of the People's Government in 1924, the temporarily banned celebration of this holiday reappeared under a new label, renamed "Day of Cooperativized Breeders" with the idea of ​​eradicating any religious element and limiting its manifestations to the world. nomadic herders. Despite this, the tradition also continued among the townspeople who never stopped celebrating it and filling the monasteries, during the Buddhist religious services which took place on this occasion in the only official monastery of Gandan, in Ulaanbaatar.

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