This year's Nadaam celebration here in Arvikheer was exceptionally big, festive and special! The reason for this huge celebration was the 80 year anniversary of both the city of Arvikheer and the aimag of Uuvrkhangai.
Unlike the national holiday set aside for Nadaam (in mid July) ,this year our city celebrated Nadaam on the 28, 29 and 30th of July. The late dates allowed those from smaller soums and outlying areas to attend the big celebration.
The town underwent many improvement projects in the weeks leading up to Nadaam, i.e., re paving streets, new street lights, repainting of fences, buildings, etc.... In addition, the huge town square block was completed and two grand new statues were erected in the square, along with four huge lights which glow like stadium lighting (and shine right into my apartment at night!) There were concerts and gatherings on the square each night during the festival, though after a full day of activity, I was too tired to attend! I was awakened one night at 2 am to an amazing fireworks display, which I enjoyed through my living room window.
Wrestling is the most popular event of the three manly sports of Nadaam, which also include archery and horse racing. Oddly enough (since they are known as manly sports), wrestling is the only of the three where men only are allowed to compete.
The story goes that wrestlers used to wear deels in competition and one year a woman (brother of a well known wrestler who had gotten ill just before Nadaam) participated and won! This was at least 100 years ago, thus the reason for the cute skimpy outfits the wrestlers wear is to ensure they are male!
Horse racing jockeys can be girls and the children are usually age 6 to 12 and the category of race is based on the age of the horses. These races are very well attended and quite exciting! It takes special care to raise a race horse, feeding them limited food at various times of day to maintain the optimum racing weight.
I watched some Archery in two different Nadaam's this year and saw many women participants.
My entire summer plans were changed so I could attend this amazing 80th anniversary celebration and i was not disappointed!