The nomads day festival - Guide Mongolia - Horseback Mongolia

The nomads day festival

The Nomads Day Festival is held each year in the Natural Reserve of Gun-Galuut, located 130 kilometres (80,78 miles) East Ulan Bator, a bit farther than the famous Terelj National Park. The Mongolian and international medias follow the festival with a great interest.

Originally, this festival was created only for tourists, but then the Mongolian Minister of Roads, Transports and Tourism officially recognised it as a touristic event, due to the fame it had earned and because it's the one and only event that highlights the Mongolian nomadic culture.

The Nomads Day Festival unfolds on two days on the 17th and 18th of September, in the tourist camp "Steppe Nomads Camp", in the Reserve of Gun-Galuut.

After the Minister of Tourism and the local governors have led the opening ceremony, the celebrations can start : games around ten nomadic customs, such as carrying the yurt on a cart pulled by yaks, putting up a yurt, placing furniture in the yurt, preparing and serving tea with milk, catching a lasso placed on the ground while riding a galloping horse, catching and controlling horses, and other nomadic games, Each team is composed of two men, two women, and a 6 to 10-years old child.

Afterwards, travellers take part in some of the games described above and they try their hand at nomadic daily tasks.

In the evening, the trial relates to musical and artistic folklore. Each team has 15 minutes to convince the judges and win the trial, whether it be with throat singing "khoomei", Mongolian traditional dancing, contortioning, or playing Mongolian traditional instruments like morin khuur, yochin or bishguur.

The day after, a rather special beauty contest is held. Couples aged 18-32 must carry different traditional tasks proper to each sex in order to win points. A third of these points is given according to their physical appearance on a horseback : their clothes must match with the colour of the coat.

Then a mini-Naadam, called "shuvuun saaral", will be held. Nomads take part in the three main games of Mongolia : horse race, archery, and Mongolian wrestle. Only 6-years old horses ridden by children take part in the race. Children are lighter, which makes possible to gather speed on the 20-kilometres (12,43 miles) long course.

Each archer has 40 arrows. They confront each other one by one or in teams, on targets placed 75 metres (246,06 feet) far from men and 65 metres (213,26 feet) far from women.

The second day is dedicated to Mongolian cooking. Nomad dishes are prepared in front of the travellers who will enjoy them with several typical drinks of the steppe.

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