Kerala, one of the most beautiful place in India is known not only for its backwaters or ayurvedic massages but it is the snake boat races that lure tourists from all over the globe. The boat races organized during Onam- a harvest festival are very popular and sort after everywhere. These boat races have hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators. People from all over flock the venue to enjoy the races. The hundred feet long snake boats are decorated with utmost interest and care and have around hundred people on board. These snake boats have musicians on board who sing and play different instruments to keep the enthusiasm alive in the oarsmen.
One of the most important and popular events Nehru Trophy Boat Race. One of the biggest snake boat races in the world this race is held in memory to the late Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru. The trophy associated with the festival was donated by Pandit Nehru to the winners in 1952. This happened when he came down to Kerala and got a 'roaring' welcome. The trophy looks like a snake boat in silver and has the following engraved on it-” To the winnerf the boat-race which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin". Held at the Punnamada backwaters of Kerala this boat race has hundred to hundred twenty oarsmen rowing it. It is held on the second saturday of August every year and thus keeping with the tradition it will be celebrated on 9th of August 2008. This festival presents a sense of fraternity, unity and color all around and attaches foreign tourists to it also.
After the Champakkulam Boat race another snake boat race in the list is the Aranmula Boat Race is celebrated on the last day of the seven day long Onam festival. This year the Aranmula Boat Race will commence on 16th September 2008. Held at Sri Parthasarthy temple, thousands of people gather to cheer up the participants of the race. This snake boat race has a religious significance attached to it.
Another famous snake boat race of Kerala is Champakkulam Boat Race. It tops the list of snake boat races of Kerala and is held according to the Malayam calendar. Held on the river Pampa, it is one of the oldest boat races of Kerala and is closely connected to the Sree Krishna Temple. This race is held on the day of the installation of the deity at the temple. The day this race will commence this time is on 6th July 2009.
Another famous boat race is the Payippad Boat Race which will be held on 14th September 2008. A three day event it attracts tourists from near and far and is held on the Payippad Lake. It is celebrated in the memory of the Prathista ceremony of Harippad Subramanya Temple.It is major aquatic festival on the backwaters of Kerala.
These snake boat races are known for their thrill and excitement, healthy competition and each of the races have a legend and significance behind them.