- January 15, 2017
- River Pamba, Aranmula, Pathanamthitta
The Aranmula Boat Race the oldest river boat fiesta in Kerala, the south western State of India is held during Onam (August–September). It takes place at Aranmula, near a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The snake boats move in pairs to the rhythm of full-throated singing and shouting watched by an exciting crowd. In 1972, snake boat races were also added to the program of the festival. Thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to watch the snake boat races. In 2009 forty one snake boats or chundan vallams had participated in the festival. The oarsmen sing traditional boat songs and wear white mundu and turbans. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a show of pageantry too.
Aranmula is about 128 km from Trivandrum, capital city of Kerala. It is situated on the banks of the river Pampa. The famous temple at Aranmula is dedicated to Sree Parthasarathy of Lord Krishna as the divine charioteer of Arjuna. A rough estimate puts the age of this temple to 1700 years.
Palliyodams (snake boats)Palliyodams are Aranmula’s unique snake boats (‘’Chundan Vallam’’) which devotees hold in reverence, considering it as the divine vessel of the presiding deity in Sree Parthasarathy temple. These Palliyodams belong to different ‘’karas’’ (rustic parts) on the banks of river Pampa. Each one will usually have 4 helmsmen, rowers and singers. It is decorated with golden lace. There will be a flag and two or three ornamental umbrellas.Every year the boats are oiled mainly with fish oil, coconut shell, and carbon, mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and the boat slippery in the water. The village carpenter carries out annual repairs and people take pride in their boat, which is named after and represents their village.