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Holy Mt. Yerd Games Festival


All nationalities are unique and one-of-a-kind people, and every folklore, language, customs and created pieces of art take their share in enriching the treasure of global culture.
“Yerdoyn Naadan” was the name that stood for ancient game practiced by the Buryat people from times immemorial: during the so-called epoch of “zegete aba” and throughout the period of Chinghiz Khan and his Empire until XVII-XVIII centuries.
The Yerd Games Fetival were a kind of Buryat Olympic Games that included “urildan” competitions in horse racing, “barildaan” Buryat wrestling and “surkharban “archery competitions.
Dozens of folklore groups, musicians and singers would come to the shore of Lake Baikal to take part in the Yerd Games Festival. So-called “uligershee” or the fairy tale authors in their “matgaal” songs sang praises of the merited Buryats whose glorifying deeds were well-known in entire Lake Baikal area. Names of the winners of the Yerd Games Festival’ competitions would remain popular for very long time among the people and be preserved in the folkloric narrations and songs made in their honor.
Many young people attended the Yerd Games Festival. Throughout the Games running skillful guys would succeed in finding good and handsome brides, and the young ladies used to find worthy matches for their future marriage.
Annual circle dances around the Yerd Mountain could last non-stop for many days and were not just an entertaining event, but composed a part of big rite devoted to the major Supreme Deity common for all the Buryats, who governed their inter-clan relationships.
Preceding the Games, the offerings and prayers are first done. Representatives of west Baikal clans and tribes every year launch the pilgrimage that involved a thousand and more people coming to the delta of the Anga river in order to pay tribute, pray and do offerings to the master spirits of the sacred Yerd Mountain and the Aya Rock. Only devoted priests or the white shamans and respectful old men – tribal chieftains- had the right to approach the Aya Rock and do prayers there.
According to ancient custom and beliefs the Games had to be carried out annually at same time of the year and continue 6 days and nights. During the first day the pilgrims would do arrangements for their camping site, on the second day they carried on general and solemn prayer ritual, on the third day first the horse racing took place and then in the evening the “yohor” –circle dance around the Yerd Mountain, various games and songs were arranged. The fourth day was dedicated to wrestling competitions. On the fifth day they competed in archery while in the evening singing of songs, games and ‘yohor” circle dancing continued. On the sixth day singers, fairy tale tellers and dancers competed.
While the youth had lots of fun participating in various folk games and competing with each other, the clans’ chieftains discussed general issues of tribal security and efficient ways of informing each other in case of invasion or attacks by enemy tribes.
100 years since the Games last holding the tradition to hold the Yerd Games Festival was revived in the year of 2000 when it gathered 1000 people as participants and nearly a thousand as visitors thus enabling both participants and visitors to make up 2 circles around the Yerd Mountain: the first circle around the Yerd Mountain made up by 700 people, and the second circle consisting of 900 people.

Take your chance to see the festival and be a part of the unique “yohor” dance and song tradition that, in fact, may be the oldest part of Buryat folklore and a living link to their very early time. For tour arrangements to visit the Holy Mt. Yerd Games Festival and further details please contact us at

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