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Aranmula Boat Race

More than about 48 boats in the shape of snakes were a part of the annual celebrations of boat race in the state of kerala. This is known as Aranmula boat race, which is held annually near Pampa in the Aranmula villages of Kerala. It is considered to be the oldest of its kind of boat race in India. Such a fiesta is organised during the month of Onam as per the Malayalam calendar. Since the location of the boat race is near the Aranmula temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna, the name of this particular event is Aranmula boat race. Boats are shaped in the form of a snake, which meander their way through the river Pampa in the backdrop of lots of singing and shouting by the participants as well as the crowd.


A story that is associated with the history of the boat race of Aranmula boat race festival makes this event more interesting. according to a legend, a Brahmin man promised Lord Sree Parthasarathy to take up the provisioning of the requirements of Onam feast in the temple. These boats used to carry the promised items. On one occasion, the boats were attacked by enemies and to provide protection to these boats, all the nearby areas sent snake shaped boats which reached fast. In the later years, these snake boats became a common part of the offerings to the god and gradually competed with each other to reach the temple. Eventually, the Aranmula boat race evolved as a grand occasion of festivity on the Onam month.


Included in the boat race are about 40 or so snake boats or Chundan Vallam, which is almost akin to gods. These boats are said to be the vessels of the deity from the temple of Sree Parthasarathy temple and represent and belong to one of the karas by the side of the temple. Capacity of each boat is about 100, with participants appearing on the boats with white dhoti and a turban. Each of these boats is well maintained and made quite strongly with a singer reciting songs as the race is in progress. Decorations on the boats are quite lavishly done with silk flags and a cheering crowd. Naming this occasion as a festival is a very appropriate title and brings together people from various backgrounds and social status into oneness.


Aranmula boat race is organised in the banks of River Pampa, where the Aranmula temple is located, which was built to honour Lord Krishna as the charioteer and Lord Arjuna as the fighter. During the onam celebrations, this boat race is an integral part. On these banks, a grand carnival is also held, which goes on for about 10 days. During this time, the entire village of Aranmula is vibrant and in a celebratory mood

Getting There

The village of Aranmula is located at about 128 kms away from Trivandrum. Railway station, which is nearest to the temple, is Chenganuur, at about 10 kms distance. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is about 117 kms away.

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