Aranmula Boat Race

Aranmula boat race is one of the most popular events in Kerala. This is one event where one can see the true meaning of friendly rivalry. In Pathanamthitta, Aranmula boat race is celebrated on the last day of the 7-day long Onam festival. The Aranmula boat race of Kerala is held at Sri Parthasarathy temple where thousands of people assemble to cheer up for the participants of the boat race. The Aranmula temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Thousands of people gather on the banks of the river Pampa to watch the snake boat races. Nearly 40 snake boats or "chundan vallams" participate in the festival. The oarsmen sing traditional boat songs and wear white Mundu and turbans. The golden lace at the head of the boat, the flag and the ornamental umbrella at the center make it a show of pageantry too. Palliyodams are Aranmula’s unique snake boats localled called ’Chundan Vallam’ which devotees hold in reverence, considering it as the divine vessel of the presiding deity in Sree Parthasarathy temple. These Palliyodams belong to different ‘karas’ rustic parts on the banks of river Pampa. Each one will have 4 helmsmen, 100 rowers and 25 singers.

The snake boats are usually 100 feet long, that have a tapering end, which stands up like a scorpion's tail. It is capable of accommodating more than 100 people. The objective of the race is not to win a trophy. The objective is to spread communal harmony. The boats have to keep up with each other's speed and try to reach the finish line simultaneously. This promotes healthy attitude among people and everyone enjoys while cheering and watching the boatmen trying to keep up with each other. The boats are beautifully decorated and ornamented with red silk umbrellas. It is basically the time to enjoy and spread cheer.