Nadam festival is a folk sport festival of the Mongolian ethnic group. It happens during July and August and is a 10 day traditional festival, where “nadam” means amusement and entertainment” The festival is celebrated in Bayanbulak prairie in the Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bayingolin, northwest China’s Xinjiang region.
“Nadam” means "the three games of men": wrestling, horse racing and archery. The games are Mongolian and are held throughout the country during midsummer. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.
Naadam is Mongolian word for “entertainment or games”, to represent the joy of the harvest,and is the traditional annual event on the prairie. Naadam is unique ethnic characteristics athletics, recreation, and sports created and handed down in the long-term Mongolian nomadic life.
512 or 1024 wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hand. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his own opponent. Wrestlers wear two-piece costumes consisting of a tight shoulder vest (zodog) and shorts (shuudag). Only men are allowed to participate.
Each wrestler has an "encourager" called a zasuul. The zasuul sings a song of praise for the winning wrestler after rounds 3, 5, and 7. Winners of the 7th or 8th stage (depending on whether the competition features 512 or 1024 wrestlers) earn the title of zaan, "elephant". The winner of the 9th or 10th stage, is called arslan, "lion". In the final competition, all the "zasuuls" drop in the wake of each wrestler as they take steps toward each other. Two time arslans are called the titans / giants, or avraga.
Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2 km, Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles.
Up to 1000 horses from any part of Mongolia can be chosen to participate. Race horses are fed a special diet.
Children from 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys who train in the months preceding the races. While jockeys are an important component, the main purpose of the races is to test the skill of the horses.Before the races begin, the audience sings traditional songs and the jockeys sing a song called Gingo. Prizes are awarded to horses and jockeys. The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyn tav and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals. Also the winning jockey is praised with the title of tumny ekh or leader of ten thousand. The horse that finishes last in the Daaga race (two-year-old horses race) is called bayan khodood (meaning "full stomach"). A song is sung to the Bayan khodood wishing him luck to be next year's winner.
Mongolian archery is unique for having not only one target, but hundreds of surs on a huge wall. In this competition both men and women participate. It is played by ten-men/women teams who are given four arrows each; the team has to hit 33 "surs". Men fire their arrows from 75 meters away while women fire theirs from 65 meters away. When the archer hits the target the judge says uuhai which means "hooray". The winners of the contest are granted the titles of "national marksman" and "national markswoman".
The festival is celebrated in the middle of July. This festival is very important for Mongolians and they treat it as a sacral festival. Mongolians make a lot of rituals that includes all the inhabitants and all the members of family. It is very cheerful and merry event that everybody enjoys.
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