Nadam means “entertainment” or “games” in Mongolian language. Nadam Fair is a Mongolian annual traditional festival, especially popular in Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang. It contains traditional but popular Mongolian sports, such as wresting, horse racing, archery contests, Bulu racing, lassoing horses and Mongolian chess. In some places, some competitive events such as track and field events, tug-of-war, volleyball and basketball matches are also held. During the grand fair, people enjoy performances of martial arts, polo, archery on horseback, swordsmanship on horseback, a horse-walking race, as well as a motorcycle race. In the horse-walking event, the participating horses are all well trained and their four hooves are not allowed to leave the ground at the same time during the race. Nadam Fair is held every year in July and August, when there are rich rainfall, lush grasslands, flourishing livestock, fine weather and fresh air.
Corban means “sacrifice”, and is a major Islamic rite to show obedience and faith to Allah. Corban Festival, or Eid al Adha, is one of the major Islamic festivals celebrated by Muslims in Qinghai. It is also called the Loyalty and Filial Piety Festival among Chinese Muslims. Corban Festival falls on the 10th day of the 12th month in the Islamic calendar, and is the last day of pilgrimage activities. On that day, Muslims speaking Chinese, Turkish and other languages gather at mosques in splendid attire to celebrate the festival. After the ceremony, people in good financial condition will butcher a cow or sheep and split the meat into three parts: one for the poor, one for relatives and one for themselves.
Festival of Fast-Breaking
Festival of Fast-Breaking, also called Eid al-Fitr in Arabic or Roza héyt in Persian, is one of the three major festivals for Muslims (the other two are Corban Festival and Mawlid al-Nabi). In China, Chinese-speaking Muslims regard Festival of Fast-Breaking as a grand festival and call it the “Greater Eid”. Fast-Breaking Festival falls on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar. Early in the morning on that day, Muslims first take a bath at home, put on holiday clothes, then go to mosques where they will attend ceremonies and donate money to help the poor. After the ceremony, they greet one another, invite guests to dinner as etiquette requires, and exchange festival delicacies with each other. Some Muslims also read aloud from the Koran at home and pray for blessings; others read the Koran aloud in front of ancestral tombs as a way to mourn for the dead.
Horse Racing Festival
Horse-racing is a major sport in Qinghai, and is very popular in Beishan (Ledu County), which is part of Xunhua, and pasturing areas across and province. There are two kinds of horse races: one judges the rider for his speed and footwork skill while the other judges the rider only for speed. To win the race, the rider must be good at selecting, raising and training his horse, last but not least, the horse-racing, which is the climax of the whole event. Some spectators will present colorful silk scarfs, called Hada or Khata, to the winner, and friends, relatives and female family members will hang embroidered bags on the horse’s mane. The winning horse is colorfully decorated with the largest number of embroidered bags.
Egg Fair of Tu and Hui Ethnic Groups
This fair is held during the peak season of egg-producing. Then, the Tu and Hui ethnic minorities will go to the fair with boiled eggs to play the knocking-at-the-egg game in threes and fours. At the end of the fair, the ground is covered by broken egg shells, as if a hailstorm had just swept over. The players believe that the game can protect them against hailstone disasters throughout the year.
On the sixth day of the sixth lunar month, people across Qinghai celebrate this colorful event, and the one held in the scenic area of Laoye Mountain in Datong, 36 kilometers away from Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, is the most famous. That day, people gather on the mountain to sing “Hua’er” songs (folk songs of love in Qinghai) in groups divided by ages. Singing “Hua’er” songs is a way for local people to express their love and the Hua’er Festival offers them an opportunity to find love, express love and sing love songs. Many good folk singers stand out in the singing contests.