Onam Snake Boat Race During Onam Festival:
Here am sharing some details about snake boat races or vallamkali during onam festival.Onam is the most important festival for the people of Kerala state. It is a time for immense joy and togetherness between families and friends. One of the celebrations during Onam is the snake boat races
Onam is a very important festival for the people of Kerala. It is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm by them. The festival spans for ten days, the tenth day being the most important day of the festival. Onam has many specialities and unique celebrations such as making pookalam designs, playing traditional Onam games, performing traditional Onam dances, preparing a grand banquet and conducting snake boat races.
The boat races which are also called Vallamkali are now world-famous as it is unique and requires a lot of hard work and team unity. The snake boat race is organised in many parts of Kerala especially in those places where there are backwaters. The Aranmula temple in Kerala, which is built at the banks of the river Pamba, is one of the most famous places for vallamkali.
‘Vallam‘ in Malayalam language means water and ‘kali’ means to play. Aries Punnamada Chundan, which has a length of 144 ft, is the longest steel snake boat in the world because of which it has entered the Guinness Book of World Records and also has a place in the Limca Book of Records.
Some of the famous snake boat competitions in Kerala are
1. Aranmula Boat Race
2. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race
3. Champakulam Moolam Boat Race
4. Thazhathangadi Boat Race (Kottayam Boat Race)
5. Payippad Jalolsavam (oldest snake boat race)
6. Kumarakom Boat Race
7. Indira Gandhi Boat Race
The most important things about Onam are the onakkodi, the new clothes worn on this day and onam sadya, a feast which is quite elaborate. This is usually a feast served on banana leaves and serves rice along with at least an array of 4 dishes. Traditional pickles and papadam are also served. Dessert is usually ‘payasam’, a sweet dish made of milk, sugar and other traditional Indian savories.
During Onam, people create a multi-coloured floral decoration on the ground in the front of their home called pookkalam. Young children especially girls are often entrusted with the task of gathering and laying out the flowers in elaborate patterns. Competitions are held on onam day to create this floral design. It is usually 1.5 m in Diameter usually in circular shape. A lamp is usually placed as part of the design. In the recent years, the floral designs have evolved from the traditional circular shape to unique designs depicting different cultural and social aspects of Kerala life.
The Vallamkali (the snake boat race) is another event that is synonymous with Onam. Well-known races include the Aranmula Boat Race and the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. About 100 oarsmen row huge and graceful snake boats and men and women come from far and near to watch the snake boats skim through the water.
During the Onam, Keralite Hindus install an image of Thrikkakara Appan (Vishnu in the form of Vamana) in their home just as Hindus install images or murtis of Lord Ganesh on the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
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