In Kerala, the months of August and September that the moist rain drenched earth and the glorious ever flowing backwaters burst into song together, as over hundred thousand men and women gather on the banks to witness a spectacular water regatta- the Snake Boat Races. (more…)
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Aranmula Boat Race
The most famous Aranmula Boat Race is conducted on the Uthrittathi day of the Malayalam month Chingom(August – September)in connection with the national festival of Onam. The two-day event is more a water fiesta than a competition connected with Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple. Palliyodams are Aranmula’s unique snake boats which belong to different ‘’karas’’ (rustic parts) on the banks of river Pampa. This boat race is held to commemorate the crossing of the river by Lord Krishna on that day. The deity is supposed to be in all boats that take part in the carnival and all of them are expected to arrive at their destination simultaneously. Thus no element of competition in the Aranmula Boat Race as in other regattas held in the Kerala State. The race is not conducted to win any trophy or prize. (more…)
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Nehru Trophy Boat Race is held in the Punnamada Lake near Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August every year .
In the year 1952, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India visited the erstwhile Travancore- Cochin. On his way to Alappuzha district from Kottayam he was given a roaring reception by the people of Alappuzha, escorted by the huge snake – boats. Having gone through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake boat popularly known as chundan he donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the Snake Boat race to be held every year. The trophy is an imitation of a snake boat in silver, on which the following words of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is inscribed above his signature “To the winner of the boat which is unique feature of community life in Travancore – Cochin”. Hereafter the boat race has grown into Alappuzha’s most important event.
This Boat Race is one of those events, which the people of Kerala look forward to with excitement. Thousands of Keralities- men, women and children- throng the watersides of Alappuzha to witness this event. Huge Pavilions are set up for the people on the bank and in the middle of the Punnamada Lake. Over 16 Chundan Valloms participate in the race along with scores of smaller crafts like the churulan, veppu, odi etc., with a price for each category. There are separate races for women too. The race begins with a colourful display of floats, performing arts and decorated boats.
Payippad Boat Race is one of the major snake boat races in Kerala. Payippad Jalotsavam or Vallaarattu is a three day annual fiesta on the Payippad Lake which is 35kms from Alappuzha. This water festival had a close connection with Subramanya Swamy Temple in Haripad. It commemorates with the installation of the deity at the Subramanya Swamy Temple, Harippad. The story is that the people of the village decided to build a temple with Sree Ayappa as the presiding deity. After the temple was ready, they had a vision directing them to a whirlpool in Kayamkulam Lake they would find the idol of Sree Subramanya, which was to be installed at the temple. Accordingly, the elders of the village with divers and swimmers rowed to the spot and found the idol, which was escorted, back ceremoniously by devotees from the entire region in colorfully. In remembrance of Prathista ceremony of the deity at the Haripad Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, a three day water festival is conducted each year.
The main highlights of the Payippad Boat Race is Chundanvalloms or snake boats. The swift “Chundanvalloms” racing through the blue, crystalline waters are, indeed, a treat to the eyes of the spectators.
Champakulam Boat Race
The traditional annual boat race of Kerala begins in July at Champakulam. Champakulam Boat Race in Champakulam Lake announces the starting of the boat festival season and month of festivals. This festival is known as “Moolam Vallamkali”. “Moolam signifies Malayalam Nakshathram Moolam in the month of Mithunam. This is the much oldest Boat Race in Kerala.
Champakulam boat race is closely connected to the installation of the deity at the Ambalappuzha sree Krishna Temple. The idol for Ambalappuzha temple was taken from Karikulam temple. When it was taking back to Ambalappuzha ,the Christian subjects of Champakulam and near by places also travelled and accompanied King and his men till the installation duly done and shown all support throughout.
The King was happy with Christain Subjects’ love and affection, declared that henceforth, to commemorate these events, a great water carnival would be held at Champakulam every year, on Moolam day in the Malayalam month of Mithunam. Thus began the Champakulam Snake Boat Race and related functions, which continue to this very day. The enchanting idol of the temple was carved out of black granite.
Special privileges were also given to the Christian household who gave shelter to Raja on the way to idol installation. They had been given lands and coconut groves to supply the oil for the lamp.