Boat race reflects the enthusiasm and jubilance of people during the
celebration of their main festival, Onam. Various types of boat race are
held and each are distinct from one another. Scores of long snake boats and
other smaller crafts participate in these events. Hence the festival is also known as Long Boat Racing Festival. The largest team sport in
the world,the snake boat races are preceded by colorful water parades.
The snake boat race is the most exciting of all race, which is manned by
four helmsmen, 25 singers and 100 - 125 oarsmen. These oarsmen row in unison
to the fast rhythm of the Vanchipattu (song of the boatman). Thousands of
people crowd the water's edge to cheer the huge black crafts as they slice
through the waters to a spectacular finish.
There are four most important boat race, which are the oldest and most
important events. These are Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, Aranmula
Uthrattadi Vallamkali, Payippad Jalotsavam and Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
Champakulam Moolam Boat Race
It is the oldest and most popular snake boat race in Kerala that is closely
connected to the Sree Krishna Temple at Ambalappuzha. The race is held on
the Champakulam Lake on the day of the installation of the deity at the
Temple. An exotic procession of water floats, boats decorated with colorful
parasols and performing arts greets the spectator before the race. The race
proper is held in various stages for various categories of boats.
Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali
Aranmula Uthrittathi Vallomkali is conducted in the Pamba River in front of
Sri Parthasarathi Temple. The Aaranmula Boat Race is staged each year in the
scenic village of Aaranmula in August/ September. This river carnival is
part of the Aaranmula Temple festival. Masses throng the shores of the River
Pamba to watch an imposing cluster of snake boats called 'Palliyodams'.
Though, large snake boats take part in this festival they do not race with
each other. Instead, they row in union, to the accompaniment of songs and
reach their destination
The three day annual fiesta on the Payippad Lake, 35 km from Alappuzha,
commemorates the installation of the deity at the Subramanya Swamy Temple,
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the most colorful water sport in Kerala, is
conducted at Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha on the second Saturday of every
August. Though it is a festival, the attraction about this is the sportive
spirits among the participants of the race.
In the year 1952, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru visited the erstwhile Travancore
- Cochin. On his way to Alappuzha from Kottayam the people of Alappuzha,
escorted by the huge snake-boats, gave him a roaring reception. Having gone
through the tremendous excitement of sailing in a snake-boat popularly known
as Chundan, Jawaharlal Nehru donated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the
winner. The trophy is a replica of a snake-boat in silver, placed on wooden
abacus on which the following words of Punditji are inscribed above his
So plan a boat race festival tour in Kerala to enjoy this most amazing and unique boat race festival.