ULAN BATOR, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Mongolia's annual national sports festival Naadam got underway on July 11, marking the 97th anniversary of the People's Revolution.
Inscribed in the UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the official holiday is celebrated from July 11 to 15. Naadam means "games" in the Mongolian language.
The most widely watched festival in Mongolia, it features horse racing, archery and wrestling.
There are no special tracks, which makes Mongolian horse racing unique.The Naadam organizing committee said around 2,000 horses have been registered this year.
The winner is honored with a cup of fermented mare milk, which he drinks and sprinkles the rest on his horse, while a "praise singer" sings the praise of the best riders and their horses.
A total of 512 wrestlers are competing this year. Only men are allowed to participate. The main difference between Mongolian traditional wrestling and international free wrestling is that the weight of wrestlers is not taken into consideration.
There are many titles for victorious traditional wrestlers. A wrestler who wins five fights in succession during Naadam becomes known as Falcon, and a seven-fight winner takes the title of Elephant. The title of Lion is bestowed on the winner of the entire festival, and a two-time festival winner becomes known as Titan.
Archers compete in three categories, with both men and women allowed to participate in two categories.
The fourth element of Naadam is shagain kharvaa or "ankle bone shooting," a game played with preserved sheep ankle bones used like dice.
The festival is celebrated with khuushuur, a crispy, deep-fried flat dumpling, and airag, a fermented dairy product traditionally made from mare's milk.