Archive for the ‘8. Snake Boat Race’ Category

Snake Boat Race

June 14, 2008

Snake Boat RaceThe Atmosphere was reverberating with the Vanchipaattu(Song of Oars men on snake boat) –

Kuttanadan Punchayile, Kochu Penne Kuyilale
Kottu venam, kuzhal venam, kurava venam,
Thithi thakatheitheitho, thithithatha theitheitho

It is Punnamada lake shore, Alappuzha, the famous Nehru Trophy Site.
Snake Boat Race or Vallamkali as it is called in Malayalam – another, unparalleled attraction of God’s Own Country. Another great event as important as the land’s ethos as the elephant pageant. A sport that signifies the excellent team spirit, integration and amity of the people of this backwater country. An occasions of great excitement that is a reflection of a vibrant people.

Alappuzha was decorated length and breadth for this great festival. It is Onam season too. Onam is the national festival of Kerala. The festival after the harvest, the Joyous time for every one to celebrate.

I reached the punnamada lake shore around noon to view the Boat Race. Scores of long snake boats and other smaller crafts were moving through the lake. The snake boat race was preceded by colourful water parades.
The snake boat is manned by four helmsmen, around 25 singers and 100-125 oarsmen, who row in unison to the fast rhythm of vanchipattu. Thousands of people were crowded on the water’s edge to cheer the huge black crafts as they sliced through the waters to a spectacular finish. The oldest of these events have curious legends and myths attached to their origin. Myths closely linked to the rustic people and their beliefs.
The alleppey boat race is name after Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India who witnessed it in 1957.
Over 16 chundan vallams participate in the race along with scores of smaller crafts like the churulan, veppu, odi etc., with a prize for each category. There are separate races for women too. And went on late into the evening.
I could find many people who participated in the fiesta were higly intoxicated and drunk with country liquor – Kallu or Toddy.
There were enough Police arrangement too for peaceful conduct and security.

There are other Boat races in Kerala like Aranmula Uthrittathi Vallam kali, Payippadan Jalolsavam etc.

The excitement of the race was so great. Large number of chundan vallams cutting through the water , competing each other vigrously, singing in rythm was a spectacular site. Each Chundan Vallam was sponsored by a ‘kara’ or community area.
Finally three chundans had a photo finish although ‘Payippadan’ finished first with hair line difference.
The finishing point was not very much visible from the place i was observing.