Every year in July Mongolians mark Nadaam, the national festival featuring what locals call “eriin gurvan nadaam,” or the “three manly sports” of wrestling, horseracing and archery.
The festival dates back to the times of Genghis Khan, who supposedly introduced the competition as a means to keep his soldiers in fighting form during times of peace. This year’s national Nadaam festival was dedicated to what Mongolians claim as the 2,222nd year of Mongolia’s statehood.
Provinces and small towns across the country host their own Nadaam games throughout the month. The nationwide festival takes place in the capital Ulaanbaatar. The games are officially declared open after nine ceremonial white banners representing the nine tribes of Mongolia are brought from the government house and hoisted in the national stadium.
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Pearly Jacob is a freelance journalist based in Ulaanbaatar.