Aranmula Vallamkali (Festival of Kerala)
Also commonly known as the Aranmula Boat Race, Aranmula Vallamkali is a popular annual festival in the south Indian state of Kerala in India, which is also known as ‘’God’s own country.’’ This festival happens to be the oldest boat fiesta in the state of Kerala, and is held every year during the popular south Indian festival of Onam, which happens between the months of August and September.. Like always, it will take place at Aranmula, which happens to be located near a popular Hindu temple, known as the Aranmula Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Krishna as well as Arjuna. This venue is located exactly 128 KMs away from Trivandrum, which is the capital of the state of Kerala and it is situated on the bank of River Pampa itself. Legend has it that the Aranmula Temple is actually around or more than 1700 years old.
During this boat race, snake boats in pair catch on a rhythm as they move in sync amid a crowd full of cheers and shouting, the excitement of the festival soaring higher by the minute. It takes place on river Pampa, and being one of the most popular festivals, thousands of people come together on the banks of this river to watch the boat races. The boats are decorated beautifully using flags, ornamental umbrellas, as well as golden laces. Traditional folk songs of Kerala are sung throughout this race to keep the spirits of the participants in the race as well as the crowd watching high.
The snake boats in the boat race are traditionally known as Palliyodams and during the race each of these boats have four helmsmen, rowers, as well as singers. These boats are taken care of very well by religious processes, which includes coconut shell, fish oil, carbon, etc. to make sure that the wood remains strong and the boat slippery enough to float on the water. In fact, the village carpenters conduct annual repairs on these boats to make sure they are fit to be a part of the festival.
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