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The Naadam Grassland Festival is a traditional Mongolian festival with a long history dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368). It is the most magnificent event of the Mongolians, featuring three games: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. The festival is held around July when the weather is the most pleasant with and blooming flowers, green grass, and numerous cattle and sheep adorn the landscape. Naadam means “games” in the Mongolian language, and it the festivities are held as a celebration of the harvest.
Naadam has a very long history. According to historical records, it originated in the beginning of the 13th century when the Yuan Dynasty was established. As early as 1206, Genghis Khan held big gatherings on the grassland in order to inspect his army and to maintain and allocate the properties. The chief leaders of all the tribes were assembled, and the gatherings were held as a sign of solidarity and hope for an abundant harvest. In was like this that gradually, the Naadam Grassland Festival was formed.
In the beginning, there were sacrificial ceremonies during which the lamas burnt incense and chanted sutras praying for blessings. Nowadays, it has become an important event featuring and demonstrating traditional Mongolian mass recreational and sports activities. The three core games of the Naadam Grassland Festivals today are wrestling, horse racing, and archery.
The primary activities of the festival include singing, dancing, sports competitions, and the exhibition and marketing of ethnic commodities and food. People come from far away wearing their holiday costumes to participate in the events while visitors watch and are often invited to join in the festivities. The evening wrap up with much celebrating and socializing around a flaming bonfire.
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