There are many festivals in Inner Mongolia.
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Naadam is the best known of the Mongolian festivals, celebrating the anniversary of the People's Revolution in 1921. Originally a sports carnival to test the skills of the Mongol warriors, it is now a summer festival.
The festival is celebrated with Horse racing, wrestling, archery and other competitions as well as theatrical performances. Agricultural products, by-products, native products and animal products from different prefectures are exchanged at the fair.
During the festival, tourists may participate in Horse racing, archery, or enjoy an imperial banquet of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), or local wedding ceremonies, a memorial ceremony at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, also tours highlighting Mongolian customs and a visit to the hot spring forest.
In Mongolian, Nadam means "recreation or game". The festival is a traditional gathering of the Mongolian people in Inner Mongolia, held annually in July or August when the pastures are at their greenest, and usually lasts between three and ten days.
The Nadaam festival, or eriyn gurvan nadaam, is the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians. It highlights the greatest athletes in Horse racing, archery, and wrestling: Mongolia's most popular sports. Women participate in all but the wrestling category. The word Nadaam means game or competition in Mongolian. Competitions take place days on the first two and merry-making is reserved for the third.
This festival has been held for centuries as a form of memorial celebration, as an annual sacrificial ritual honoring various mountain gods or to celebrate a community endeavor.
The festivities kick off with a colorful parade of athletes, monks, soldiers marching in perfect uniformity, musicians performing powerful military tunes, and Mongolians dressed in Chinggis-style warrior uniforms.
The sport of archery originated around the 11th century, during the time of Khanate warfare. Contestants dress in traditional costumes and use a bent bow constructed of horn, bark, and wood. The arrows, made from willow branches and vulture feathers are shot at round, leather targets with grey, yellow or red rings. Men must stand 75 meters and women 60 meters from the target. Judges, standing near the targets, assess each shot with a cry, called a uukhai, and a raised hand. The winning archer, or mergen, is the one who hits the targets the most times.
Mongolians have a high regard for horses since, for centuries, they have relied on them for transport, sustenance, and companionship. During the races, up to 1,000 horses can be chosen to compete. The Horse races are broken down into six categories based on the age of the horses. For example, two-year-old horses race for 10 miles (16 kilometers) and seven-year-olds for 17 miles (30 kilometrs). The race is conducted on the open grasslands with no set track or course. Children from the ages of 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys since this guarantees that the race tests the horses skill and not the riders.
The small size of the jockeys also increases the horses' endurance. Even still, jockeys train for months before Nadaam and the horses are given a special diet. The winning jockey is praised with the title tumny ekh or "leader of ten thousand" and the five winning horses are talked about and revered in poetry and music. The losing two-year-old Horse is also alloted special attention by being serenaded with a song. Music is very important before the race too, as the audience sings traditional songs and the the jockeys sing a pre-race song called a gingo.
Eating and drinking is the other "sport" during the Nadaam festival. The Horse races are held in the steppes behind these people who stop to drink tea and arak, fermented mares' milk. Cold meat pancakes, called khuurshuur , ice cream, bread, and fruits are other popular festival foods.
The wrestling competitions begin around noon on the first day of the festival and end on the second day. They are quit unlike American wrestling matches in form an have other two important differences. First, there are no weight divisions. A small wrestler can be pitted against someone two times his weight. This can lead to some very interesting matches. Second, there are no time limits.
The loser of a match is the wrestler who falls first. A fall is when any part of a Wrestlers body, except his hands or feet, touches the ground.
Titles are given to winners of a number of rounds: Falcon to those winning five rounds, Elephant for seven rounds, and Lion to the one winning the whole tournament.
One elite wrestler was once given the title "Eye-Pleasing Nationally Famous Mighty and Invincible Giant." Wrestlers honor the judges and their attendants with a dance called devekh, or eagle dance. The winner also performs the eagle dance after the loser of the bout takes off his jacket and walks under the winner's arm. Wrestlers wear small, over the shouler vests called zodog, and snug shorts called shuudag. The heavy, traditional Mongolian boots are called gutuls.
More About Traditional Chinese Festivals
- Double Ninth Festival
The 9th day of the 9th lunar month is the traditional Chongyang Festival, or .
- Dragon Boat Festival
The , the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, has had a history of more than 2,000 years.
- Laba Festival
In China, December of the lunar calendar is called the La month, so the date of December 8th is also the .
- Lantern Festival
The falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, usually in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.
- Mid-Autumn Festival
The falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, usually in October in Gregorian calendar.
- Mongolian Festivals
There are many festivals in Inner Mongolia.
- Qingming Festival
The is one of the 24 seasonal division points in China, falling on April 4-6 each year.
- Spring Festival
The is the most important festival for the Chinese people and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West.
- Spring Festival Custom Of Ethnic Minority Groups
Besides Han, many ethnic minority groups also have their own ways to celebrate this traditional festival.
- Tibetan Festivals
Tibet, the Mystical Land, draws numerous travelers, adventurers and scholars by its fascinating folklores, unique values and mysterious religious practice.
- Winter Solstice Festival
The Winter Solstice became a festival during the Han Dynasty and thrived in the Tang and Song dynasties.