MONGOLIA GOES INTO PARTY MODE COME JULY. THE BIGGEST SHOW ON CHINGGIS KHAAN'S LAND: NAADAM!!!!
31 May 2015
All aimags, cities and sums hold their own version of the festival of the 'three manly games' - Naadam. The biggest of them all is of course the Ulaanbaatar City Naadam, from the 11th to the 13th of July.
The 'three manly games' as they are known are wrestling, horse racing, and archery. In 2001, knucklebone shooting was added to the games.
Don't worry about the word 'manly.' Women compete in archery and young girls ride as jockeys in the horse races. Most of the action happens at the National Stadium but the horse races are held at Khui Doloon Khudag, a good 40 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar proper. This year, everything may be held at this out of town site.
Mongolian wrestling is, however, only reserved for men.
As for archery, men, women and children compete for honors. Ethnic Uriankhai, Buriad and Khalkh competitions are held before the nationals. The State Archery Tournament follows Khalkh regulations. Participants are dressed smartly in their colorful deels, impressive-looking bows and arrows by their side.
The horse races are held in the wide-open spaces of Khui Doloon Khudag, where the air is perfumed with the scent of wild oregano and horse sweat. Where the skies are bluer than blue. Where spectators are in carnival mode. No betting allowed, but you can drink as much airag--fermented mare's milk-- as your stomach can take.
There are many sideshows during Naadam. One of the most colorful is the Deeltei Mongol Naadam or Mongol in Deel, the traditional dress festival held on the 13th of July at Chinggis Square, in the center of the city. It's a giant photo op.