Mongolians take part in the “Three Manly Games” of archery, wrestling and horseback riding that represent the nation’s heritage during the Naadam Festival. As a way for Mongolians to demonstrate their military prowess, the festival originated in the 12th century. Naadam tournaments were held during religious holidays from the 17th century onwards. They have been held on Revolution Day, the anniversary of the Revolution of the People, since 1922.
11 July – 15 July
In the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, the main Naadam festival takes place and opens with a cultural performance with ethnic dancing and music before the games begin. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the games, both young and old.
Naadam Festival – Event 1:
Usually, wrestling is the first sport. A knockout tournament involving 512 to 1,024 competitors is the main wrestling event.The contestants are all men and have to enter the bare-chested into the ring as the legend says that a woman once entered the games and won against the men, so now before the battle starts, all the wrestlers have to prove they are male. There are no weight divisions and the rules are much simpler, unlike international wrestling competitions – if a wrestler touches the ground with every part of their body apart from their feet and arms, they forfeit.
Naadam Festival – Event 2:
Since the time of Ghengis Khan, Mongolian bow archers have been renowned for their ability and precision. The recurved Mongol bow at its time was an unmatched weapon on the Eurasian steppe battlefields and deep into Western Europe. The games are made up of three archery groups – Buriat, Khakh and Uriankhai – with different bows, arrows and distances.
Naadam Festival – Event 3:
Horse-riding supremacy was the secret to the steppe domination of the Mongolians. The nomadic life of the Mongols established their abilities with the horse and bow as expert hunters, which made them formidable opponents. They created stirrups that allowed Mongolian horsemen to ride without reins, leaving their hands free for fighting.