Traditional Mongolian festival starts

0 CommentsPrintE-mail Xinhua, August 20, 2009
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With performances of traditional Mongolian horse racing and wrestling, a four-day Naadam Festival kicked off Wednesday at the scenic spot of Genghis Khan's Mausoleum in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as part of the 11th Asia Arts Festival.

In Mongolian the word "naadam" means "amusement and entertainment."

It is said that for centuries the festival has been held as a sacrificial ritual honoring celestial beings with music, dancing and sports competition. It usually lasts three days in July or August, with the main event being three Mongolian games: horse racing, archery and wrestling.

While all local Mongolian people are expected to take part in the festival, the three games are only open to men. But in recent years, more women began to compete in horse racing and archery.

Local legend has it that about 800 years ago, Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire, was impressed by the grasslands and forests in Ordos during a crusade and said he wanted to be buried here after his death. But soldiers accompanying him didn't take the words seriously. Later, the wagon to transfer his body passed through this place again and one of the wheels got stuck in the mud and could not be pulled out.

According to his will, people buried some of his clothing here. The trick seemed to have worked, as the wagon was able to continue on track smoothly.

Although it was set up more than 300 years ago on the outskirts of city Ordos, the mausoleum is not the real burial place of Genghis Khan and only has clothes and accessories. The real burial place has not been discovered yet.

The 11th Asia Arts Festival, sponsored by China's Ministry of Culture, runs from Aug. 18 to 26.

On Tuesday, ministers from 17 Asian countries gathered here for a roundtable meeting and signed an initiative to carry out far-ranging and substantial cooperation on cultural development and human resources as contributions to restoring the confidence of the society and promoting economic revival.

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