Vallamkalli is also known as snake boat race. Vallamkali Boat Race is a long-held tradition of the state, and its fame has consistently been reaching to new heights. The race received a major boost when the former prime minister of India, Lt. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, started a trophy for the winner. There are numerous boat races conducted in Kerala, which are so popular that tourists from other places come to enjoy the race. It is one of the major tourist attractions and is part of the tradition of Kerala.vallamkali is mainly conducted during the season of the harvest festival Onam in autumn
The race of Chundan Vallam (snake boat) is the major event. Hence Vallam Kali is also known in English as Snake Boat Race and is a major tourist attraction. Other types of boats which do participate in various events in the race are Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam (Vaipu Vallam), Vadakkanody Vallam, Kochu Vallam.
Vallamkali boat are no ordinary boats and there are fixed measurements to it. It is about 100 feet long and has a seating capacity of 150 men. The boats are usually made of anjili (Artocarpus hirsuta), though sometimes teak and kadamb (Naucleacadamba) wood is also used. The curled ends of the boats are shaped like cobra hoods and it is from this shape that boat has derived its name. Each boat is meticulously crafted by skilled craftsmen and a lot of patience and hard work goes into making and decorating it. The boat is treated as a deity and a holds a lot of emotional value for the village folk. Only men are allowed to touch the boat that too with bare feet. Each boat belong to individual villages located near the river Pamba.
Great care is also taken for the upkeep of the boat. A carpenter repairs the boat on an annual basis. The boats are lubricated with fish oil, coconut shell and carbon mixed with eggs. This also helps to keep the wood strong and boats slippery in water. This way one can always find a boat ready for a swim. As the tradition gained popularity, the number of snake boats increased leading to the custom of a grand carnival called Snake Boat Race In this big event, around 30 ornately designed boats compete against each other in the fascinating backdrop of folk songs, reverberations and dancing. Signifying team work and unity, the race concludes amid great fanfare and joy
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