Boat Race Kerala
The Nehru Trophy Boat
Race on the Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, held on the second Saturday
of August every year, is the most competitive and popular of the boat races.
On the day of this fiercely fought boat race, the tranquil lake front is
transformed into a sea of humanity with an estimated two lakh people, including
tourists from abroad, coming to watch the event. For the people of each
village in Kuttanad, a victory at this race for their village boat is something
to be celebrated for months to come.
The major attraction of
the boat race is the competition of snake boats chundanvallams or snake
boats.Chundans (snake boats) are an impressive sight, measuring over 100
feet in length, with a raised prow. They were called snake boats by the
former colonial rulers, who based the name on a native boat found in Norway,although
Kerala's Chundans bear little resemblance to their European namesakes.
In Kuttanadu, the land
of lakes and rivers, snake boat racing is something of cult, just as bull
fighting is in Spain . Sleek and immaculately poised, the snake boats are
the pride of every village. These race boats dominate the thoughts and
actions of the people of this region during the months of August and September,
when newly 20 minor and major regattas are held.
The water festival in
Kuttanad is unique. No other country in the world has such festivities.
The large number of participants in a racing boat marks still the uniqueness
that no other sport in the world has such a large number in a team. The
synchronized way of rowing needs long and devoted training and inherent
aptitude. Those who steer the vessel need through knowledge of water current,
observation power of high order, and they must be well versed in the different
aspects of boat racing. The most notable fact in the races of boats is
that a single neglected act of a single participant will lead a boat to
lose in the race.
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