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Boat Races

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The Snake Boat Races of Kerala
Boat races arre yet another splendid unparalleled attraction of God's Own Country. An event that is as much part of the land's ethos as the elephant pageant. A sport that signifies the excellent team spirit, integration and amity of the people of this backwater country. Occasssions of great excitement that is a reflection of a vibrant people.

Boat Race The snake boat races of Kerala are magnificent fiestas that brings alive the tranquil backwaters. Snake boat races are held in connection with Onam, the harvest festival in August/ September. Scores of long snake boats and other smaller crafts participate in these events. The largest team sport in the world, the snake boat races are preceeded by colorful water parades.

Usually a snake boat is manned by four helmsmen, 25 singers and 100-125 oaresmen who row in unison to the fast rhythm of vanchipattu (song of the boatman). Thousands of people crowd the shore's to cheer the huge black crafts as they slice through the waters toa spectacular finish.

The oldest of these events have curious legends and myths attached to their origin. Myths closely linked to the rustic people and their beliefs.

Chundan Vallam
(Snake Boat)
The boats of Kerala are known after their shapes, sizes or purposes. The Chundan Vallam is so called because of its pointed prow. The term snake boat comes from its stern which represents a raised hood of a snake and its length - usually 50 to 150 feet. The stern is majestically caparisoned and decorated with a flag and brass ornaments. Silken parasols are arrayed along the entire length of the boat.

(Song of the boatman)
These highly rhythmic somgs were created to keep time with the movement of the oars and to keep up the spirit of the boatmen. The themes of these songs are devotional, mythological or relating to rustic life styles. Every snake boat has about twenty five singers keeping time with traditional percussion instruments.

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