During the months of monsoon, Kerala comes to live with four main snake boat races, namely Nehru Trophy on Alleppey's Punnamda Lake; Champakkulam Moolam along the river at Champakkulam (Changanassery); Payippad Jalotsavam on Payippad Lake and the Aranmula Boat Race along the Pampa River at Aranmula, near Chengannur. Apart from these there are 15 minor snak races that are held in Kerala. What makes these races different is the boat itself, which is known as Chundan Vallam and is 100 to 120 feet long. These boats appear as a snake due to their design and can only be oared by 100 rowers. The races take place in Each of the villages in the region own a snake boat and every year the villagers get together and race the boats along the lakes and rivers.
History of the Festival
It is believed that the snake boat races date back to 400 years. It is said during that time the kings of different regions used to fight with each other in boats. Once a king who suffered heavy losses asked boat architects to build a better boat, and thus, the snake boat was created.
Duration of the Festival
Apart from Aranmula Snake Boat Race, the other races are one day affair. Aranmula is a part of a 10-day festival in Kerala.
Highlights/ Important Rituals of the Festival
- Each village has one boat in the region
- 100 rowers row one snake boat
- The Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race is commercial and tickets have to be bought to witness it
- During the Aranmula Snake Boat Race, traditionally dressed rowers, accompanied by 25 singers, are cheered on by the spectators.