Mongolian Wrestlers Reach Out For Each Other At The Nadaam Games
Every July Mongolian Wrestlers meet at the Nadaam Games to wrap their arms around each other, more or less, and share sports camaraderie that dates back to Ghengis Khan. They will gambol their legs and outplay their arms as they have for centuries, until one falls down, just like the old days a few thousand years ago. That is often about three hundred pounds each doing leg manoeuvres. Not a twinkling of the tootsies by any stretch. And those tootsies, by the way, are encased in a heavily tooled leather boot that only cowboys and Mongolians would be caught wrestling in. Only since Mongolia opened up with the Soviet empire decline have westerners been able to witness any early July, the modern version of this ancient sport.
The participants actually step and swerve with minimal body contact until the fall is declared by a wizardly shrouded judge that would impress Harry Potter. The winner might actually collapse on top of the loser due to the close proximity and the forward body manipulations that the sport requires and that could be truly crushing to the underpinned. To a certain extent winning is all about posturing, sneakily side stepping all the while facing off.
After a winner is declared, remarkably, gloating success and honour is all about dancing. After being temporarily crowned a winner on the field, he heads to the Mongolian flag displayed on the field. Judges are honoured with a dance called devekh or eagle dance with arms imitating the grand bird soaring. With those arms flailing widely but ever so slwoly, he pirouettes around the flagpole in slow motion. Although Mongolian wrestlers my not appear in top physical shape by western standards, these are the kinds of guys you might not want to tangle with in a wrestling competition. This is an all male event so women need not apply.
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Mongolia Nadaam Games Opening Parade – Rain or Shine
Rain on the Nadaam Games Opening Parade? No matter, everyone is ready. Mother Nature just requires a little accommodation. Work things out, find out what she is up to and march on.
Drizzle, Sizzle. Smuck, Muck. Splish, Splash, Sploosh. Cover up.
Out of the closet with ceremonial suits. Military uniforms crisped. Wayward buttons located and dutifully replaced. Medals and awards jittering and jingling with every military measured step, proclaiming past distinctions and laurels.
Grandmas and girls and grandpas and sons. Old ladies and tiny babies, pompous men and gracious ladies, everyone is either on display or watching the display.
And the brass. Polished with spittle, or what ever secret remedies work in Mongolia’s arid, short-lived summer. Now readied for the biggest parade of the year for the biggest sports event of the year.
Reflection of past accomplishments and current competition hysteria. Let the parade commence.
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Mongolia Nadaam Games Competition Half Time
You know what half time means, a break from the action. And the Mongolia Nadaam Games can compete with any sports half time around the world.
Break Drink Consume Share Relax
It is a time to refresh, chat up old friends, allies and acquaintances. Then, head out to catch a snack before the rest of the day’s performance absorbs your interest. In Mongolia, rich with tradition, half time festivities are not unlike those enjoyed by sports fans in the rest of the world:
Refresh with beverages – just as westerners head to the beer stalls, Mongolians are apt to head for a beer too but they also bring out the traditional national beverage, Airag, fermented mare’s milk.
Laid back camaraderie – the summer sun is intense, the competition fierce and at half time everyone wants to talk about the new competitors and whether the old standbys will keep their medals.
Family – Another Mongolia Nadaam Games tradition is to herd up in family gatherings, reacquaint over food, open- air picnic style with mini barbeques are favoured.
Horses – there is not much that happens at the Nadaam Games without horses involved or nearby. For many folk, young and old, hopping on a steed and taking off for a lunch break is just the way life is.
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Mongolian Kids, Nadaam Games
Kids and games go together. Ancient games and annual rituals and sweet food and family parties and crazy horses and traditional feasts. That is the Nadaam Games.
Where this festive scenario unfolds, one can predict there will be lots of people and that means there will be kids.
lots of them: running, laughing, gripping, riding, screaming, staring. If you are prepared, show respect and reveal intent there will be candids and portraits to capture the emotions. Lots of them. The Nadaam Games comes annually to the entire country of Mongolia in early July and the kids are there. Every time.
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