Rowing to success

Rowing to success

Nehru Trophy Boat Race 

Introduction to the Kuttanadu Boat Races:

  • In Kuttanadu, a region recognized for its lakes and rivers, snake boat racing is a prominent cultural event.
  • During August and September, thoughts in the area are dominated by the respected and elegant snake boats.
  • These competitions involve synchronized rowing and call for a high level of skill.
  • Each person in a single boat forms a sizable team, and their contribution is essential.
  • The significance of important water festivals is linked to temples, keeping the essence of traditional Keralan culture.

Background and geography: 

  • The central Travancore region of Kuttanadu is submerged due to the presence of the Pamba, Achankovil, and Manimala rivers.
  • Over many years, the ground was reclaimed for agricultural purposes, and the locals worked the land.
  • Due to its geographical characteristics, Kuttanadu’s inhabitants place a high value on celebrations.

The Story of Boat Races:

  • The history of snake boat racing dates back 400 years, involving battles between rulers of Chempakasseri, Kayamkulam, Thekkumkoor, and Vadakkumkoor.
  • Chempakasseri Raja sought to improve his war boats, leading to the creation of the first snake boat.
  • The Chempakasseri Raja’s boat, with its eel-like design and strategic advantages, proved victorious.
  • Kayamkulam Raja attempted to learn the boat’s design through deceit but was unsuccessful.

Boat Types: 

  • In Kuttanadu, a variety of boats, including Kochuvallams, Kettuvallams, Churulans, Chundans, Veppu Vallams, and Oadis, are used for diverse purposes.
  • Snake boats, also known as Chundans, are distinguished by their size, speed, and manoeuvrability.
  • Chundans may hold 100 to 150 rowers and extend to lengths of 38.5 to 48.5 holes.

Participation of the community: 

  • Some race boats are jointly owned by neighbourhood communities, while other race boats are rented out by organizations.
  • The local population bonds and grows closer together throughout the boat race season.
  • Participation in boat races is something to be proud of, and money is raised by donations from the general public.
  • Boat races are celebrated locally as events that foster comradery and family get-togethers.

Specific Boat Racing Festivals:

  • Festivals dedicated to boat racing: Chambakulam Moolam The placement of Lord Krishna’s idol at Ambalapuzha Sree Krishnaswamy Temple is commemorated with the festival of Vallamkali.
  • To commemorate the installation of the deity at the Subrahmanya Swamy Temple in Harippad, Payippad Jalotsavam is conducted on Payippad Lake.