Kerala boat races-the extraordinary visual treat
Literally meaning, ‘boat game’, Vallam Kali is a conventional boat race which takes place every year in the South Indian state, Kerala. This famous South Indian occasion has its origin in Assyria, where it was first celebrated in 300 BC. In the ancient days, it was extremely popular and was celebrated by several kingdoms. In Kerala, Vallam kali first took place during the 14th century war, when the then king has commissioned the construction of Chundan Vallam now better known as Snake Boats.
It’s a celebration that fills the air with happiness
The highpoint of the tourist season in Kerala is undoubtedly during the harvest season when they can see the spectacular sights of Kerala boat race. Interestingly, it takes place during the same time of Onam during the month of august. Chundan Vallam is the primary event in the festival of Vallam kali, but also includes boat of different kinds like the traditional paddled longboats. Outside Kerala, this festival has gained the popular title of Snake Boat Race, and the different varieties of boats which participate in the event include Kochu Vallam, Vadakkanody Vallam, Veppu Vallam, Odi Vallam, and Churulan Vallam and so on.
The Nehru trophy boat race held near Alappuzha, at Punnamada Lake in Kerala is identical to Vallam kali and attracts thousands of visitors from all across the country. In this festival too, the most popular event is the Chundan Vallam and the specialty of this event are the Vallam kali boats. It is held every year; on the second of August is a cause of massive celebration for all the locals residing in the event.
This is one of the oldest races in Asia
Considered to be the oldest river boat carnival in the country is Aranmula boat race, held during the famous occasion of Onam in the south-western state of India. The occasion is celebrated every year in Aranmula, near an eminent Hindu temple dedicate to Arjuna and the almighty Lord Krishna. The snake boats, which are the primary component of this festival moves in pairs with cadence to the shouting and full throated singing of the crowd. Since, 1972 the snake boat races are held every year without fail and all the visitors gather near River Pampa to catch a glimpse of this famous event. An estimate of nearly forty one snake boats gathers every year to participate and win in this racing event of Onam Vallam kali.
At the Vallam kali boat race, several oarsmen gather wearing turbans and white colored mundu (kind of head turban) and sing in sync traditional and popular boat songs. The boats participating in the event are decorated with ornamental umbrella in the centre, flags, golden laces tied to the front of the boat, makes the event type of pageantry. Another spectacular event taking place in this festival is when devotees hold the Palliyodams, a kind of unique snake boat with reverence and respect. The devotees consider it to be a type of a sacred and divine vessel, of their primary idol in the significant Shree Parthasarathy temple. Each of the Palliyodams, signify the different rustic parts or locally known as the “Paras” of sacred river Pampa.