Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades & sporting competitions like archery, horse riding and wrestling. These activities follow celebrations such as weddings and spiritual gatherings, but is now mainly celebrating independence day. It served as a way to train soldiers for battle.
The three games of wrestling, horse racing and archery had been recorded in the 13rd century book. The three sports are called "Danshig" games. Genghis Khan's nine horsetails, representing the nine tribes of the Mongols, are still ceremonially transported from Sukhbaatar Square to the Stadium to open the Naadam festivities. At these opening and closing ceremonies, there are impressive parades of mounted cavalry, athletes and monks.
Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship.
One thousand twenty four wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet or hands. Each wrestler has an "encourager" called a zasuul. The zasuul sings a song of praise for the winning wrestler after rounds 3, 5, and 7. Winners of the 7th or 8th stage earn the title of zaan, "elephant"