Naadam Festival

Naadam - Men's three Games

Mongolians celebrated Naadam in old times and since the 1921 revolution the Mongols again started to celebrate Naadam to commemorate the great victory. Naadam is held every summer between 11 - 13 July at the Central Stadium in Ulaanbaatar and people from all over the country flock to the city on these days to watch and participate in the festivities. The three games of men are: Wrestling, Archery and Horse racing.


Wrestling is the most popular sport in Mongolia and all people, including women, know how to and like to watch wrestling. Mongolian wrestling, is similar to that of Sumo wrestling. Wrestlers are greatly respected and honoured people in Mongolia, and there are many traditions  surrounding the sport. Wrestling culture is very hierarchal as well as maternalistic .

Horse Race

Horseracing is one of the most rejoiced and honoured traditions in Mongolia, therefore it is everyone's favorite part of the Naadam. The Horserace of the Naadam festival takes place about 30 km out of Ulaanbaatar. Many horsemen and horse-trainers travel as far as 1000 km with their fastest horses to the capital city, to participate in the race.

There are 6 six races for horses of different ages (Daaga (2 years), Shudlen (3 years) Khyazaalan (4 years), Soyolon (5 years), Ih nas (over 5 years old) and Azarga (Stallion)) and each race has about 400 horses on average participating. Normally, 6 to12 year old boys and girls are jockeys (wearing colourful dresses with numbers) and some of them race without saddles to reduce the weight. At the start of each race, jockeys sing a special song, while riding, named Giin-Goo in order to hearten the horses to speed along. The horses recognise this song from their training as the sign to race. The race distance varies depending on the age of the horses. Daaga, being the youngest, race a distance of 15 km, Ih nas race the longest distance of 30 km, whereas stallions race 28 km. The total distance is doubled, as the horses trot to the starting point and then return to the finish galloping at full speed.


Although it is named "Men's 3 games", women participate in the archery competition. Archers use bent bows made out of layered horn (from wild mountain goats), bark and wood. Usually arrows are made from willow, and feathers from vultures and other birds of prey. The distance from the stand to the target is different for men and women - men shoot from 75 metres and women from 60 metres. After each shot judges standing near the target sing Uuhai songs and raise their hands in the air to show how good the shot was. The archer who hits the target most becomes Champion or Mergen.

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