INDIA FESTIVAL CHAMPAKULAM BOAT RACE




 
Champakulam Boat Race : Introduction

 



Champakkulam boat race is the first in the list of all boat races that are held in Kerala. Kerela is popular for its winding stretches of backwater and so different types of boat races could be held during the harvest season of the state. The boat races are native to the place. Champakulam Boat Race, Kerala is held on the 2nd July of each year. Champakulam Boat Race, Kerala comprises of the amazing water floats, decorated boats, Vanchipattu which is the song of the oarsmen and mainly the thrilling Chundanvallom race. A category of boat is the Chundan which is over 100 feet in length and is equipped with raised prows. The Britishers called these Chundan boats as the snake boats. With a long coastline, the Sea is so very important to the social, economic, religious and cultural life of the people. The economic life of the people, residing in coastal areas, is very much sea dependent and thus boats form an important part of their life. For centuries, boat races in these parts of Kerala have become a symbol of social and cultural harmony. These boat races also speak about the adventurous and competitive spirit of the people. The boat races teach the essence of life to live in harmony with people as well as nature.

In the boat races, a boat is manned by four helmsmen, 25 singers and 100 - 125 oarsmen who row in unison to the fast rhythm of the vanchipattu (song of the boatman). It is an amazing site as thousands of people gather at the waterfront to cheer the huge black crafts as they cut their way through the waters to a spectacular finish. Many of these boat race festivals in Kerala have curious legends and myths attached to their origin.


History Of Champakulam Boat Race

According to legend, King of Chempakasseri, Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayanan, built a temple at Ambalappuzha but just before the installation of the deity (Lord Krishna) he was informed that the idol was not auspicious. It was important to install a suitable idol immediately. Accordingly, the priests identified another idol of Lord Krishna, kept at the Karikulam temple in Kurichi. This idol was believed to have been given to Arjuna by Lord Krishna himself, and was therefore considered very sacred. After getting the idol from Karikulam temple, the Raja's men set forth by boat for the return journey. While returning to Ambalappuzha, night set in, and, as instructed by the Raja, they took shelter at a Christian household, the home of Mappilassery Itty Thommen, in the village of Champakulam. Itty Thommen was a loyal subject and a confidant 'of the king. The next day, the Raja and his entourage turned up at Mappilassery. Pujas were offered to the deity and Itty Thommen and his men also travelled with the flotilla to Ambalapuzha where the idol was duly consecrated and installed with great fanfare. The Raja, pleased with the love and affection shown to him by his Christian subjects, declared that henceforth, to commemorate these events, a great water carnival would be held at Champakulam every year, on Moolam day in the Malayalam month of Mithunam. Thus began the Champakulam Snake Boat Race and related functions, which continue to this very day.

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