Festivals are to travel what spices are for cuisine. They enrich our journey with unique local flavour. By visiting Kerala during Onam season, the vibrant Malayali culture is revealed before the traveler. Apart from that, they also get a glimpse of local mores, beliefs and values.
During Onam season, the backwaters of Kerala come alive with decorated floats and active water sports. Locally known as ’Kali-Vallangal’, the fleet on the languid backwaters would be headed by the most majestic boat of the lot, referred to as ’Chundan vallam’.
The sight of the oarsmen rowing in unison, singing to the rhythm of the oars, is indeed worth watching. The maximum length of the ’Chundan’ boats is hundred and thirty feet. About hundred and twenty rowers would be seated in every boat, sixty on each side.
The snake boats are called so as they are similar to hissing snakes in appearance. The front portion that curves to a height of fifteen to twenty feet reminds one of snake hood.
The glistening brass embellishments attached to the sharp prow of these snake boats stand about four feet above the waterlevel. The man who controls the movement of the boat has long oars.
The speed and balance is based on the skill of this steer man, who stand on the rear end of the boat. It is estimated that with every single powerful plunge of the oar, the boat leaps forward to about thirty feet.
The topographical peculiarity of Alapuzha enables it to host many water regattas like Payippad ‘jalotsavam’ (water festival), Nehru trophy boat race, Neerettupuram boat race, Aranmula Uthrattadi vallamkali etc.