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Snake Boat Races (Vallam Kali) 2024 in Kerala

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Dates: July–September

Snake Boat Races (Vallam Kali)
Snake Boat Races (Vallam Kali)

A unique and traditional sporting event in Kerala, the boat races are usually held with great excitement during various festivals.

Races Highlights

A snake boat (or chundan vallam) is a long, canoe-style boat used by the people of Kuttanadu. It's not just a boat but a symbol of Kerala's rich cultural heritage. Typically 30–35 m (100–120 feet) long and accommodating 64 or 128 rowers, each village in the region takes pride in its own snake boat. The annual races, held along the rivers and lakes, are a testament to the unity and spirit of the community. The sight of a hundred men rowing in perfect unison to the beat of furious drums is a sight to behold.

Snake Boat Races Overview

Several prominent snake boat races occur in Kerala, each offering unparalleled beauty that must be witnessed firsthand to be fully appreciated. Visitors must be aware that the timing of festivals is intricately intertwined with the Malayalam calendar and deeply rooted local customs. Festival dates are based on these cultural foundations, but they are approximate as variations may occur due to the diverse customs and rituals at different places.

Champakkulam Boat Race (June 22, 2024)

Champakkulam stands proud as the oldest Snake Boat Race in the State, heralding the start of the annual boat race season. Nestled along the Pampa River in the serene village of Champakkulam, located in Alappuzha district, this race typically unfolds in June or July, attracting massive crowds. Witnessing colossal boats cleave through the waters amidst the echoes of ancient boat songs creates an electrifying atmosphere.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race (August 10, 2024)

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race stands as one of Kerala's foremost snake boat races. Taking place on the second Saturday of August annually, it commands a considerable audience. Spectators flock in abundance to witness nearly 100-ft-long boats vying against each other, accompanied by the strains of traditional boat songs. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Punnamada Lake, contestants gather to embark on this thrilling competition.

Aranmula Boat Race (September 18, 2024)

The Aranmula Boat Race stands as one of Kerala's most esteemed boat races. Aranmula, nestled along the banks of the river Pampa in the Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, is a village steeped in heritage and tradition. Typically falling between August 15 and September 20, this event boasts a rich history and grandeur unmatched by others.

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Authors: Mariia Myshok