We got the very good advice to spend Naadam, Mongolia’s biggest holiday, in one of the smaller towns rather than in Ulaanbaatar. Naadam celebrates Mongolia’s three “manly sports:” horse racing, wrestling and archery. People come together for a few days, wear their best clothes and enjoy the competitions. It was so much fun.
The night before the official opening, the town had a concert that we were able to attend. It seemed like the entire population was there, all dressed up and greeting each other, while the acts ranged from groups of dancers, teenagers playing instruments, the high school marching band and some interesting fusions of traditional and modern music. Some of the performers had done too much karaoke and overestimated their talent, but some were excellent. And who doesn’t love a group of ten year olds playing recorders?
The opening ceremony was a mix of Mongolian history and folklore and local celebration, many of which featured horses.
The governor rode in on a horse, too:
There were also dances and then a parade. The marching band:
Some of the town leaders:
Wrestlers of all ages:
Wrestling competition underway:
Much as I appreciate the skill of archery, and the fact that women also compete, it’s not all that interesting to watch.
The clothes were gorgeous.
(Photos of governor and archers were taken by our visiting friend.)