A characteristic feature that defines mankind best is competition. From ages ago till the present time this characteristic feature still flows through the veins of mankind. Competition serves many purposes and is seen in many forms. In the land of Kerala that is blessed with extensive backwaters, lagoons and lakes competition takes the form of boat races. The boat races have been in practice since ages and slowly have become a well preserved tradition. The boat races in Kerala are symbolic of many things and have a great cultural value that can be seen in the determination of the participants of the boat races.
In Kerala boat races are many in number and are held in different parts of the state with different significance. Each boat race held in this wonder state of emerald backwaters has its own charm to it and is really great to watch. Some of the most famed boat races in Kerala are as follows:-
Nehru Trophy boat race- this particular boat race takes place on the Punnamada Lake and is also popularly known as the “Snake Boat” race. The name snake boat is given as the boats are long and slender which is symbolic of snakes. The race takes place on the second Saturday of August and is one of the most famed boat races of the state. The name Nehru trophy originated as the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru on visiting Kerala was escorted by these snake boats in Alleppey. Impressed by the way his first visit was celebrated the prime minister instated a rolling trophy to be awarded to the winner of the snake boat race. The wooden snake boats are about 120 feet long and are powered by around 100 rowers. These powerful rowers put in all their strength and determination to win the race.
Presidents Trophy Boat race- this race is held on the day of Atham which marks the start of the festival of Onam. The boat race takes place in the great Ashtamudi Lake every year during the start of Onam. The course of the race is from the Thevally Bridge to the Kollam boat jetty. There are five categories of boat races that take place here. The five categories of boat races that take place here are Chundan Vallam i.e. the snake boat race and two categories each of Veppu Vallam and Iruttukuthi Vallam. The trophy that the winners of the race lift is made out of gold and is of 10 lakh rupee value. This boat race was instated under the president of India who would witness the race and give away the prize to the winners.
Kallada boat race- this boat race was first founded in the year 1969 and takes place on the Kallada River. This boat race is conducted on the day of Munroe Thuruthu which is falls after 28 days from the festival of Onam. This boat race too is an annual event that is witnessed by many people indigenous and foreigners alike.
Aranmula boat race- this is one of the oldest boat races of the state and is held during the festival of Onam. The boat race takes place on the Pampa River near Aranmula which is a Hindu temple. This boat race is great to watch and the competition is really great. The boats are also well decorated with golden lace at the head of the boat, a flag and an ornamental umbrella in the center of the boat. The boat is laden with rowers and singers. The rowers row in synchronization to the words of the singers bringing a uniform motion to the oars that power them forward.
Other than these above mentioned races there are more such as Champakulum Moolam Boat Race, Indira Gandhi Boat Race, Sree Narayana Jayanthi boat race etc. that make up the numerous boat races in Kerala. A visit during the time of these boat races would definitely add excitement to your trip and make it more memorable.