Every summer, from July 11 to 15, Mongolians wear their traditional clothes, deal, get together with their families and friends, and celebrate the summer festival, Naadam. Over the past decade, the Naadam celebration in Mongolia has modernized, grown, and become more international.
Traditionally, the Naadam Festival symbolizes Mongolian independence, sovereignty, national unity, status, history, culture, heritage and customs. Therefore, Naadam is highly regulated even when it is celebrated across the country. Each of Mongolia’s 21 provinces organizes different Naadam festivals.
The opening ceremony of the Naadam Festival is held at the National Sports Stadium near the capital, Ulaanbaatar. The great white banners of Chinggis Khaan are raised once more to unify Mongols around the world each summer, and Mongolia celebrates its history, including its modern revolution and the ebbs and flows of the Mongol Empire.
The theme of this year’s Naadam was “Eternal Unity” and its prominent historical tales and founding myths. According to Monstamethe opening ceremony includes “six chapters” titled “The Hymn of Eternal Unity, The Great Epic, The Time of the Great Mongol Destiny, The Migration of the Three Times, The Valley of Altan Tevsh and Mongol World.”
More than 1,500 artists, singers, dancers, horse artists and craftsmen participated in the opening ceremony, including perhaps the largest array of local talent to date.
According to Mongolian Minister of Culture Nomin Chinbat, “The successful opening ceremony demonstrated the foundation, vision for the future, valuable nomadic heritage, history, culture, unity and harmonious connection between humans and nature. In preparation alone, more than 4,000 professional and freelance artists, industry workers, and employees of 79 arts and cultural organizations have collaborated.”
In a separate place, a collaboration between Rio Tinto, the Mongolian National University of Arts and Culture and the Mongolian Arts Council showcased Mongolian heritage, particularly folk art and nomadic craft forms.
The newly appointed US Ambassador to Mongolia, Richard Buangan, spoke highly of the festival: “These few days have been absolutely incredible. I think Mongolia should celebrate Naadam throughout the year.”
During Naadam, various traditional sports competitions such as national wrestling, archery, national horse racing and ankle archery are organized and special titles and decorations are also awarded.
This year’s Naadam also included the “Mongolian Pride” photo exhibition, the Mongolian Deeltei festival, the “Beauty of Mongolia” art exhibition, public performances, the President’s Honor Event and the Cultural Festival, which together cover a wide range of activities for the national public. and foreign tourists.
In many ways, Naadam is a way for Mongolia to celebrate its history and achievements, while also showcasing modern Mongolia on an international stage. Since Ulaanbaatar aims to diversify its economy, tourism is considered as a possible source of income. The Mongolian government has designated 2023-2025 as the “Years to Visit Mongolia”. The government’s post-COVID recovery plan includes a “Welcome to Mongolia” initiative as part of its plan to increase tourism, aiming to reach 1 million tourists by 2023.
In seeking to boost tourism, Naadam plays an important role in showcasing the country’s culture and traditions while providing opportunities for local businesses, entrepreneurs and travel agencies. Naadam’s successful organization, in turn, makes Mongolia a little more internationally relevant every year. In the past decade, Naadam has become one of Mongolia’s top cultural attractions for Mongolian tourists, researchers, and enthusiasts. These efforts have strengthened collaboration between government, the private sector, and the global community.
Another factor in the internationalization of Nadaam is the growth of the Mongolian diaspora. As Mongolians migrate to different continents, establishing Mongolian communities around the world helps preserve Mongolian traditions, cultural activities, and national holidays and festivals such as Naadam and Mongolian Lunar New Year. Mongolian communities in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States actively participate in celebrating the annual Naadam festival.
As Mongolia strives to transition to an advanced democracy, its culture and heritage must modernize without losing its essence. Naadam has also been modernized and its cultural dominance provides a boost internationally.
Naadam’s official framing was captured in his 2010 inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to the entry, “The Mongolian Naadam is inseparably connected with the nomadic civilization of the Mongols, who have long practiced herding the vast Central Asian steppe. Oral traditions, performing arts, national cuisine, handicrafts, and cultural forms… also feature prominently during Naadam.”
Mongolians believe that the showcase of nomadic civilization, traditional arts and crafts, dance and gestures at Naadam is modern Mongolia’s way of passing the torch to a younger, international generation.
On the other hand, Mongolia also aims to make its traditional culture more accessible to non-Mongolians. The Ministry of Culture provides cultural services to foreigners through affiliated institutions, such as museums and libraries. For example, as part of the special cultural programs, the play “Mongolian King” was performed in English, which has been popular with tourists. Theaters and museums are also operating without holidays to meet the growing tourist demand.
In addition to the Naadam celebration, several provinces are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and the Mongolian countryside will be full of festivities organized for tourists from home and abroad. The recent sighting of British actor Christian Bale is an alluring sign that Mongolia is becoming a major tourist destination.