Successful Holding of Extraordinarily Unique Nomadic Festival

Mongolians have a miraculous nomadic heritage that is unique to the world. Along with its rich and worldly history, the nomadic civilization festival celebrates the value of family, community, tribal and national traditions along with the country’s heritage, loyalty, trials and struggles, upbringing and ethics. Unfortunately, due to growing urbanization in the last few decades, we are somewhat alienated from our rich nomadic cultures. Currently around 20% of Mongolians are living the traditional nomadic lifestyle, and this figure is declining each year. This festival was organized to honor the nomadic value of understanding and living in harmony with nature, as well as to nomadic civilization and legacies to the future generations, increase the income of the herders, and promote tourism. "Nomadic Cultural Naadam" was organized at the bank of the famous black lake of Ulaagchin, widely known as "Pearl of the Khangai, of the Erdenekhairkhan soum, Zavkhan aimag. Delegates, guests, domestic and foreign tourists, and local residents arrived at the festival grounds riding horses, cows, camels, and yak. This was the first step towards rediscovering the nearly forgotten Mongolian nomadic culture.

            The opening ceremony was striking and glorious, showing various aspects of Mongolian nomadic legacies, history and striking the chords of the viewers and Mongolians. 'Otogs' (nomadic groups or bands of families) of horses, camels, cows, sheep and goats herders  showcased many interesting customs. People traveled from one Otog to another by horse or cattle-driven carriages.



            The "Green Gold and Animal Health project", National Federation of Pasture User Groups gave their support to the sheep and goat Otog. Zavkhan Aimag Pasture User Groups set up its ger, herders made presentation on activities in the pasture, Sartuul sheep breeding and cooperatives. Simlutaneously lively contest of sheep and goat milking, sheep shearing, rope tying, 'Durvun Berkh' (Four Hard, a nomadic question game involving sheep knucklebones), and 'Felt Nair' were held. Also, there was sale exhibition of milk products, wool, leather products, and mature male Sartuul type sheep. Companies that cooperate with Green Gold Animal Health project, or that even hauled its supplies from Zavkhan aimag also took part in the exhibition. "Erdenet Carpet LLC" set up its ger at the sheep and goat Otog and organized a special exhibition of its wool and cashmere products, while "Hangain Sor LLC" showcased its hand made products. "Uujin LLC" presented yak wool and cashmere products to the festival goers.

            At the cattle Otog, contests were held in yak lassoing, cattle taming, lasso and, sling throwing, carriage and cow preparation, cow transportation, hand rope twisting, leather rope preparation, cow milking, and preparation of milk products. At the horse Otog, festival goers could participate in contests of horse lassoing, wild horse taming, mounting horse saddles, 'Dembee' (a finger guessing singing game), 'Huruudah' (another type of finger guessing game, but without singing), mare milking, foal stamping and racing, horse circuses, and horse racing preparation. There were exhibitions of fermenting horse milk and horse products. The horse Otog organized a contest for the festival goers called 'A Couple with the Most Beautiful Horses'. A camel Otog organized contests of camel transportation, camel milking, wild camel taming, camel towing, camel carriage travelling, and 'inge huusluh', where one must make a camel calf drink another female camel’s milk with the help of specific traditional songs. These contests were designed to advertise nomadic culture to the festival attendants.


            6000 citizens and 300 foreign guests and tourists attended the “Nomadic Cultural Naadam". The attendants were delighted, as the festival successfully achieved its goal of showing and disseminating Mongolian nomadic culture. Gabriella Spirli, Director of Cooperation, Consul General at Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, shared her thoughts, saying that "the Nomadic festival, organized in beautiful nature is really breathtaking. This festival not just showed Mongolian culture and customs, but also helped in making a big contribution toward saving the nomadic legacy and pasture for the herders. Adoption of the 'Law on Pasture Preservation' is vital in reducing pasture degradation and supporting livestock originated products. This law needs to be drafted on the basis of the 'Green Gold - Livestock Health' project. PUGs and Bagh (smallest administrative units in Mongolia) also need to be reflected in this law. The rangelands of most aimags, and soums has already reached its limits. Therefore, by introducing pasture usage fees, the government will contain the number of the livestock within a reasonable limit. People now should focus more on quality than quantity. Herders with more than 200 livestock should pay pasture fees, and these fees should be centralized in the local community development fund and could be utilized in pasture developments."

            Thus "Nomadic Culture Naadam", showcasing an unrivaled and unique culture developed over centuries of the nomadic people, was successfully held in Zavkhan aimag for the first year. By leasing their carriages, horses, and camels, herders thickened their wallets. However, they also expressed their worries that urban Mongolians have alienated too much from their nomadic legacies. And thus, the "Nomadic Culture Naadam" festival ended, leaving one thinking that this festival should be an annual event to pass the rich traditions to the next generation and spread the nomadic culture even farther.



Published: 2017-10-27 06:40:04