Friday, August 31, 2012

Aranmula Snake-Boat Race

Aranmula Snakeboat Race which is a spectacular event during Onam Celebration is held at Aranmula of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala State every year.
This  water festival will be on the fifth of 'Thiruvonam Day' which is known as 
'Uthrittathi star day'.
Hindus of Kerala celebrates festivals and birthdays according to the  27 stars from 'Aswathy to Revathy' according to Malayalam Calendar and 'Uthrittathi' is the 26 th Star day.
It is believed that the Idol of 'Parthasaradhy Temple' at Aranmula was consecrated by Pandava Prince Arjuna on 'Uthrittathi star Day' and this water festival is held to commemorate it.It is believed that the idol was brought to Aranmula on a canoe and several canoes and Snakeboats accompanied it as a procession.
It is also believed that the birthday of Pandava Prince Arjuna is on 'Uthrittathi 
star day' of this month.
Snakeboats are wooden boats made of typical  wood  known as 'Aanjili' which are 100 to 140 feet long.Snakeboats  were used earlier by Kings of Kerala for Military purposes.This kind of vessels can carry 100 to 120 oarsmen including  singers.The boat is controlled by 4 helmsmen and the oarsman at the tip of the boat.The oarsmen can decide the speed only.If they row fast the boat will also move fast. The Snakeboats used for Aranmula boat race are considered sacred and have connection with Aranmula Sree Krishna Temple.
At present 48 Snakeboats which are known as 'Palliodams' are participating for Aranmula boat race which is held in  holy River Pamba near to Aranmula Temple.
Earlier this water festival which is known as 'Aranmula Jalolsavam' was held 
as a display of these  well decorated Snakeboats rowing in harmony with the rhythm of songs.The songs used for this purpose are taken from a text of poetry known as 'Kuchela Vritham Vanchipattu' written by a poet known as 'Ramapurathu Warrier'.At present a boat race is also held after the array of harmonious rowing and display for the viewer's as well as rower's enthusiasm.Snakeboats are the longest water vessel used for sports purposes.
The snakeboats used for Aranmula boat race are registered under the society  'Aranmula Pallioda Seva Sangham' and they belongs to 'Karaas' which are Village wards on the banks of River Pampa  which extends from 'Ranny' to 'Chennithala'.The boat races are held in two categories 'A' and  'B' according to the length of Snakeboats.The snakeboats belonging to 'A' category will be approximately 140 feet long where as 'B' category boats are around 120 feet long.In Malayalam  Snakeboats are known as 'Chundan Vallam' and Chundan Vallam of Aranmula group are called as "Palliodams' also since they are considered as sacred.The rowers and singers will be people belonging to the same 'Kara' who are the owners of the boats.At Aranmula, boat festivals are held on 'Thiru Onam star day' , 'Uthrittathi Star day', and on 'Ashtami Rohini Day'.The birthday of Sreekrishna is 'Ashtami Rohini Day'.On these days all the rowers will be served feast from Aranmula Temple which is known as 
'Valla Sadya'.It is believed that by providing feast to the rowers of Snakeboats 
the Lord 'Parthasaradhy' who is 'Sree Krishna' will be propitiated and hence there are so many sponsors to offer 'Valla Sadya' to rowers every year.The sponsors can decide their preference of Palliodams and date for the offer of feast.As per the invitation the boat will arrive at Aranmula to have their feast.
These are all traditional ritualistic customs.




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