Event date: 2017.07.11 - 2017.07.13
Venue: Throughout Mongolia
The Naadam festival is the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians. Usually occurring in July, it runs for 3 days in all parts of the country and highlights the greatest athletes in horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Mongolia’s most popular sports. Women participate in all but wrestling category. The word Naadam means game or competition in Mongolian. Competitions take place days on the first two and merry making is reserved for the third. This festival has been held for centuries as a form of memorial celebration, as an annual sacrificial ritual honoring various mountain gods or to celebrate a community endeavor.
The horse races are broken down into 6 categories based on the age of the horses. For example: Two year old horses race for 16 kilometer, 7 year old horses race for 30 kilometer. The race is conducted on the open grasslands with no set track or course. Children from the ages of 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys since this guarantees that the race tests the horses skill and not the riders.
The sport of archery is originated around the 11th century, during the time of Khanate warfare. Contestants dress in traditional costumes and use a bent bow constructed of horn, bark, and wood. The arrows, made from willow branches and vulture feathers are shot at round, leather targets with grey, yellow or red rings. Men must stand 75 meters and women 60 meters from the target. Judges standing near the targets, assess each shot with a cry, called a uukhai, and a raised hand. The winning archer is the one who hits the targets the most times.
There are two important differences. First, there are no weight divisions. A small wrestler can be pitted against someone two times his weight. This can lead to some very interesting matches. Second, there are no time limits. The loser of a match is the wrestler who falls first. A fall is when any part of a wrestlers body, except his hands, or feet, touches the ground. Titles given to winner of a number of rounds: Falcon to those winning 5 rounds, Elephant for 7 rounds, Lion to the one winning the whole tournament.