First Carolina-Mongol Naadam 2011

On July 9th, 2011 in Colonel Francis Beatty Park near Matthews, North Carolina local Mongol-Americans celebrated the Mongolian Traditional Holiday of Naadam. In their native country it is a celebration dating back millennia, in modern times it always falls in mid July. Think of it as an Olympic type festival combining the trifecta of Mongolian traditional skills, horse racing, archery and wrestling. In Mongolia it is akin to our fourth of July with the fervor of a national sports playoff game. In the Pavilion at the park in Matthews were displayed symbols of the traditional naadam including saddles, wrestlers uniforms as well as traditional garb and boots. This was to show invited guests as well as the children what their culture evolved from.
In lieu of traditional wrestling the men arm wrestled for the championship with Jargal from the Raleigh-Durham area taking first place and Mark Guercio of Charlotte coming in second. Instead of the archery competition so as to avoid scaring the other innocent park guests a rousing round of Corn Hole was substituted. The team of Dennis Hamrick and Chuck Beasley beat out all the other contenders to be named grand champion Corn Holers or archers as the case may be with Batsolomon and Jargal coming in second. Since the confines of the park didn’t allow for true horse races which are normally 15-30 kilometers long with jockeys
ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old it was decided to let the children run foot races to determine the fleetest of foot. Javkhlan, 8 years old of King, North Carolina won the race with Bayarnam 2 years old of Charlotte coming in last but giving it all he had, not giving up. To finish up the sports competition teams were chosen for a rousing round of tug of war, local Mongolians and friends on one end of the rope with visiting Mongolians and friends on the other end. It did not end well for the home team as the visitors pulled them across the line and took home the tug of war championship.
Next came the traditional games involving Shagai, Shagai can be tossed like dice or flicked like marbles depending on which game is to be played. Games involving the Shagai have been played throughout history throughout the world. Gantuya was the winner of the Shagai competition with Undraa coming in second. As with all Mongolian celebrations it was opened with traditional Mongolian songs with music from the yatga which is a long flat harp like instrument that produces a melodious sound. The celebrations concluded with singing of Mongolian songs that honor their country, their heritage, and their people, similar to American songs like America the Beautiful.
This celebration was conceived and paid for by the local Mongolian American families. The Mongols throughout history have the belief that if you drink a country’s water you adopt its ways and customs as your own- the Mongolian Americans at this celebration have adopted the ways of their new country and are proud to be called Americans yet hold the memories and traditions of Mongolia in their hearts so their friends and their children will know the journey they have taken.

James & Uzmee Pigg

No comments: