Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Naadam Festival

Naadam is the most important festival for Mongolia. Folks come from all over the countryside to enter the competitions. There are horse races that go for 15-30km depending on the age of the horse, and the jockeys are mere young boys and girls up to 12 yo! We actually missed the horse racing because the traffic was so bad, we couldn't get to the finish line on time as it was about 20 km from the city.

The wrestling is the main event in the stadium, with men of varying sizes locked in a sumo style of wrestle and the winner being the one who manages to throw the other to the ground. There is no weight class, so the first round saw an uneven contest between skinny little army guys and big fat wrestlers. The eventual winner was a big guy who gets to take home a big cash prize and get lots of accolades. The winner of each bout goes to a flag stand where he does a little dance around and then comes back and gets to slap the bum of the loser on hi was out!

Other events were archery and knuckle bones, contested by men and women. The archery was great, the contestants wore local clothing and had great aim. When they hit the target, the people standing around it put their hands up and sing a bit to indicate they did well. Knuckle bones was a bit like marbles. They shoot a square flat bit of bone at a group of knuckle bones from the sheep. We never could work out the scoring system or who even won. I had a go at it, and it was really hard.


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