Photo of the Day: Praying for Rain

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11:00 PM HKT, Tue July 10, 2018

Our Photo of the Day series this week shares photos from Inner Mongolia, taken during the Naadam period last year.

Finding information on Naadam festivities in Inner Mongolia as someone who isn’t a local can be tricky. Several times I drove for hours to get to a rural town having been told by a restaurant/hotel owner/gas station attendant/random person in the street that that location would be hosting a Naadam, only to find that the whole thing had been called off the day before.

Arriving late one night in a town in the south of the autonomous region, I was told by a man running a yurt camp that there would be festivities taking place the next day. If I wanted, he said, I could go with his son in the morning to the pre-ceremony. I agreed, and woke up before 5am the next morning to join his son in a convoy of cars driving way too fast (thankfully down deserted roads) out to a nearby hillside.

While female visitors were made to wait on a hill opposite, males young and old ascended the slopes to an altar-like monument draped in prayer flags. They circled around it and doused it with milk and the local alcoholic spirit in the hope that rain would come to their parched lands, before clambering back into their cars and heading off to the Naadam site.

Later the next day, a huge storm rolled through the area bringing heavy rains with it.


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