Kerala is known for its rich culture and traditional values. Boat races are one of the reasons that travellers and tourists love to visit the state. Aranmula Boat race is one of the oldest and major boat races in Kerala.
Date of Aranmula Boat Race 2016: 17th September 2016
Photo Courtesy: Arun Sinha
Aranmula boat race is held every year on the Pamba river near to Aranmula Temple at the Kuttanad region of Aranmula, which is located around 15km from Pathanamthitta. This water carnival is one that is popular among Indians and foreigners equally.
Aranmula boatrace is held during he Onam season. Snake boats or chundan vallams are used to take part in the boat race. These typically shaped long boats have their rear end high up to 20ft. Once constructed, the boat resembles that of a snake, with a raised hood.
Photo Courtesy: Yankee Swap
The boats that part of the boat race are wooden boats around 100 to 138ft long, which resembles a snake with raised hood, once it is constructed. These boats are taken good care by oiling with fish oil, coconut shell and carbon and eggs to keep the boats strong.
Annual repairs are done for every boat and each boat is named after the name of the village that takes part in the race. These boats are made by skilled master boat builders and the boat making techniques are passed on from generation to generation.
Photo Courtesy: Sreeraj.n1
The boats are rowed by around 100 to 150 oarsmen, accompanied with singing and hurraying throughout the race. The folk songs are called vanjippattu and the rhythm of the music accelerates as the race progresses. There would be a group of singers in the boat apart from the oarsmen, who cheer up the oarsmen with their encouraging folk songs.
Photo Courtesy: Dvellakat
Every year the Aranmula Boat race is held as a part of Onam celebrations in Kerala. The boats are decorated with gold and silk umbrellas, and each oarsman would be in white mundu (white dhoti) and a turban.
Though other festivals also are celebrated in Aranmula temple like Khandavanadahanam and Arattu festival, the Aranmula Boat Race is what makes the temple popular.
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