Boat Racing is one of the foremost cultural attractions in the beautiful state of Kerala. In God's Own Country, a large number of regattas are organized each year. A large number of people enthusiastically participate in this aquatic event not just as participants but also as viewers. The Aranmula Boat Race is held in Kerala with a great deal of fervor and vigor.
History of the Aranmula Boat Race in Kerala
According to legend, a devotee was once carrying offerings for Lord Krishna. Unfortunately his boat was looted. This broke his heart and in order to give him consolation, God himself appeared before him. He was advised to make larger boats so that they could be rowed by several men and could easily make its way through the water. This is how the snake boats originated. The people of Aranmula even believe that on the day of the race the boat possesses and shares some of the attributes of God.
Description of the Aranmula Boat Race in Kerala
The boat race in Aranmula is held on the River Pampa. A temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna is located at Aranmula. The boat race takes place in the vicinity of this Parthasarathy temple. The banks of the Pampa River are overcrowded with people who are keen on witnessing this impressive event.
The small hamlets on the banks of the Pampa Rivers are the contestants of this boat race. But it would be more appropriate to term it as part of festive celebrations rather than as a competition. It is true that that winning does bring a lot of joy to the villagers but there is no fierce rivalry between them.
4 helmsmen, 100 oarsmen and 25 singers are seen in these 100 ft long snake boats or Chundan Vallams. The atmosphere is simply exhilarating when these boats start moving to reach the finishing line. The songs as well as the shouts and cheers fill the air. The joyous excitement of the crowd reaches its high water mark.
It is indeed a visual treat to watch the ornamentally decorated boats racing through the water. They are beautifully adorned with golden laces, colorful flags and opulently decorated umbrellas. The rowers are also dressed in the same attire - spotlessly white dhotis and turbans.
Time for celebrating the Aranmula Boat Race in Kerala
The Aranmula Boat Race begins each year on the last day of the Onam festival. It lasts for two days.