Each year Mongolians celebrate Indecency day of Mongolia on July 11th.The National Festival of Naadam has been celebrated with great enthusiasm on this day throughout Mongolia.
Hovsgol Travel is offering the Naadam Festival of Hatgal soum, small event but most spectacular view, where even tourists can participate.
The Festival Naadam opens with competitions in national wrestling, horse racing and archery, our classical sports which call ‘’The Three Games of Men’’.
People loved the races since time immemorial. There is a whole system for selecting the horses, for training them and for conducting the contests, a system that stockbreeders evolved over the centuries.
In the races held during national festivals, including the Naadam participants are in six age groups and the distances range from 15 to 35 kilometers. No special tracks are prepared, the horses covering the distance in the steppe and jumping over natural barriers. First the competitors go to the finishing line, and from there to the starting line, where the signal to start is given. Thus the distance is actually doubled.
Mongolian horse breeders take careful note of the physique and build of the horse and of any peculiarities which point to its speed and endurance as racer. Depending on the state of nourishment and other qualities affecting speed and endurance, the horses are trained for 15-20 days, with a strict diet.
The riders are, as a rule, boys and girls aged between six and twelve. Before departing for the starting line they form circles and sing the ancient melody of Gingo, which cheers up the riders as well as the racers. This is a kind of limbering-up. During the race the riders cry ‘’gug!’’, which makes the horses run faster, straining very nerve.
The five horses which come in first are led to the central stand and are arranged there in the order of the places held. The traditional libation is performed by pouring airag-horse milk on the head and crupper of the horses, and the riders are presented with rewards. The winning horses are called the ‘’ airgin tav’’ The libation and glorification rendered them are the highest honor paid to all who have reared are cared for them, as well as to the riders.
It has become a custom with us to present gold medals to the winning horses and, according to an ancient folk tradition, they are given poetic names, just like the fine wrestlers and marksmen competing in the ‘’ Three Games of Men’’.
Traditionally the winning horse is honored with odes and songs which in fact praise the toiling stockbreeder, his love for animals, his knowledge of their habits, and his tireless work for his people and country.
In the form of a canon distinctions are heaped on the winning horse depending on the position it came, on its speed, build and habits. Here is an example:
From behind the mountain this horse came
The nearer he came to his goal
The faster he galloped
His keen ears are long
Like those of a swift-footed hare
Tens of thousands of horses are behind him
He scuds like the wind
Tightening the steel bit
Ahead of thousands of race horses
He rushes on tirelessly
Pulling on the silk reins
His canines are whiter than an elephant’s tusks
His neck is shapely and powerful and his sleek
Hooves are strong
He is majestic like a lion
With an intelligent forehead
A mighty racer
And the fastest at all
Mongolian National Wrestling has specific features of its own: the engagements are not in time, there are no weight categories, the area of the arena is not fixed, and many pairs of wrestlers meet simultaneously.
All this makes it possible to conduct a contest of numerous opponents within a comparatively short time. The Naadam opens with the contests of 16 pairs of wrestlers and lasts 14-15 hours. Within that time 512 wrestlers in all take part. Their wrestling apparel consists of national boots (gutuls), a short jacket with long sleeves, tight-fitting across the back and with the chest opens (zodog), and short trunks (shudag).The material, often top-quality silk, is extremely durable.
The methods used in Mongolian wrestling are not limited and include variety of dashes, holds, strikes, throws over the hip, shoulder and back, and many other kinds of attack.
Before the beginning of the engagement the sportsmen perform a kind of dance that reminds one of an eagle’s flights. This serves, on the one hand, as a limbering-up exercise, and on the other, to show off the wrestler’s fine build.
During the engagement each contestant must have a second (zasuul), who not only advises his ward, but also announces his titles at the beginning of the third, fifth and seventh rounds. The announcement is made in order to encourage the wrestler and cheer up his fans.
Here is an example of how a wrestler a challenged to a duel:
Seconds of the right wing, listen!
We challenge your wrestler to fight
At the stadium
Of the great Naadam
Of the independent Day of Mongolia
The left wing of such and such aimag is headed by
The strongest of the strong
The young and brave
Country Lion so and so
Who personifies\The joy and exultation of the Great Naadam
He is a young Hercules, a deft falcon
Promising and dauntless
Well –built and well-proportioned
The leader of all the wrestlers
The young Lion( name is repeated)
Challenges the wrestler
Of the right wing
The elephant so-and-so
To a test of strength and agility!
In accordance with a long-standing tradition, the commissions conducting the nationwide or aimag Naadam’s and sports organizations confer titles on the wrestlers, depending on the number of the rounds in which they have won. A wrestler who has come out victorious in the fifth round is awarded the title of ‘’ Falcon’’, in the sixth and seventh rounds that of ‘’Elephant’’, and in the eighth and nith rounds that of ‘’Lion’’. Anyone who has been a victor two or three times at a national Nadam receives the title of ‘’ Giant’’. Mongolian wrestling has developed further s on the national sport and also worldwide. Mongolian won gold, silver and bronze medals from the Olympics and became also the winners of Japanese traditional sumo-wrestling.
The target consists of 360 small leather rings fixed to wall 40-50 cm and 4m long. Men shoot at this target from a distance of 75 meters and the women 60 meters. Men shoot 40 arrows at the target and must score not less that 15-18 points; women shoot 20 and must score not less than 13-17.
The bow has no sight. The arrows are made of thin willow twigs and feathers of the powerful griffon-vulture. The hexahedral pint is made of bone. The bow-string is very tough, prepared from the tendons of three-year-old bulls.
Archery contests are accompanied by the uukhai, a choral tune resembling a drawling folk song. In accordance with ancient custom, on both sides of the target stand several men singing the uukhai to cheer on the contestant, and they make signs with their hands to indicate the results of the shooting.
As a rule, during the Naadam individual as well as team championships in archery are organized. The one who scores the most points is the winner.
In 1963 the Mongolian archery federation joined the International Archery Federation and our archers have participated in major world contests.
Thus, the three classical forms of national sport have retained their popularity today.