Saikhan Naadarai!

The summer festival is here! It began on July 11 and will continue until the 15th this year. From the website Asia Public Holidays:

“Naadam” in Mongolian means “games,” which makes sense since the holiday is primarily centred on three Mongolian pastimes: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. Naadam is sometimes called “Eriin Gurvan Naadam,” meaning “the Three Games of Men.” In recent times, however, women have also participated in horse racing and archery, though not yet in wrestling.

Naadam has its origins in the distant past when Mongolia was ruled by warlords and emperors like Genghis Khan and his ancestors. Their armies’ hunting tournaments and parades, nomadic wedding celebrations, and sporting competitions all fed into what later officially became Naadam.

The holiday took on a more patriotic aura when it was chosen to celebrate the 1921 revolution that freed Mongolia from Chinese control. While Naadam has a Buddhist and Shamanist religious element to it, it has become more secularly celebrated since the 1930s, when Communist influences from the Soviet Union prevailed.

We have had the opportunity to celebrate Naadam in the past, but not since 2016. This was the summer after Z was born, so three of the four grandparents visited us in Mongolia during June and July. In UB, there is a good deal of pomp and circumstance on the opening day of the festival, including ceremonies at Sukhbaatar Square and the National Stadium. During the days of the festival, tournaments for archery, wrestling, horse racing, and shagai (games played with sheep anklebones) take place. Various events require ticket purchases, but some things are televised. Many people leave UB to spend time camping in the countryside where the long-distance, cross-country horse races take place.

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Band performing traditional music and the national anthem in Sukhbaatar Square, July 2016
National/Color Guard during parade at the National Stadium, July 2016
Enjoying Naadam style khuushuur (mutton meat pies) out in the countryside, July 2016
Waiting at the finish line for the horse races outside of UB, July 2016

From our home to yours, Saikhan Naadarai! ❤

Beth sig

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