The annual event on every second Saturday of August known as Nehru Trophy boat race is the best water competition.
It’s a 1.4 km race in the Kerala backwaters involving many classes and types of boats. The olympics among them is the ‘chundan vallam’ or the snake boat race.
One such boat is about 120 feet long accommodating well over 100 oarsmen who practice throughout the year for the competition.
The chundan vallam is locally made of a local hardwood called ‘anjili’. After the competition the boat is taken to the land and treated periodically with various types of local oils and even ghee. Part of the preparation includes oarsmen practicing on the boat (on land) rowing to the tune of the team special music.
The banks of the Punnamada lake where the race is held is teaming with human mass enjoying the competition. The VIP enclosure is so full that some people get to have just one foot landing on the ground. In Kerala everyone is a VIP.
The best to enjoy is on one of the local family boats who get permission to stay afloat along the boundary of the race course.
This year (yesterday August 12) I decided to watch on the TV but didn’t succeed as there was a delay in start due to malfunction of some attempted automation. I would like to see the traditional methods continued….
Interestingly a new entrant Gabriel chundan is the photo finish winner.
I am also amused at some new rules stipulating that not more than 25% of oarsmen can be from other states. I am reminded of an Egyptian stipulation that a good percentage of belly dancers performing should be Egyptian.
Kerala is becoming home to migrants with perhaps 12% of the population is now migrant labourers. Someone said that Kerala is to some other states like Dubai was to Mumbai. The latest per capita income published shows Kerala’s is 5 times to that of a big state.
Sorry for the digression… I become passionate when speaking of Kerala.
And then you must be thinking of visiting this ‘God’s Own County’ and it’s priceless to do it along with the boat race.
It’s the second Saturday in every august……