The Festival Of The Colourful Boat Race

Champakkulam FestivalChampakkulam festival, the festival of boat race is held at Champakkulam in the state of Kerala, India. This festival is held according to the Malayalam Calendar and falls usually in the month of July. This boat race is considered as the oldest boat race in the state of Kerala and attracts lot of local, national and international tourists. Held on the river Pampa, with the spectacular snake boats, this festival is marked as a heritage of the state.

Champakkulum is situated at 26 km from Alappuzha. This race is the first race of the season and has a glorious place in the history. The festivities include decorated boats and water floats and the race of Chundanvallom and the song of oarsmen. Chundans are a special type of boats, with a length of over 100 feet and raised prows.The race has a legend associated with it and is submerged with the essence of myths and reality.


The history

According to the popular believes this race first took place in 1545 AD. PooradamThirunalDevanarayana, the king of Chempakasseri, was highly pleased with the affection and love of his Christian subjects. The king was instructed to build a temple of the Lord Krishna at Ambalappuzha by a royal priest. An Idol of Lord Krishna was kept and worshipped at Karikulam temple of Kurichi, and the king was instructed to place and worship the idol in his newly fabricated temple.  This idol is believed to be given to Arjuna, the 3rdPandava, by Lord Krishna.

The ministers of the king went to the Karikulam temple to bring the idol and on the way of return the boats of all the area convoyed the idol in a colourful ceremonial procession. It is also believed that they stopped at Champakkulam at night on their way back and performed a pooja and spent the night in rest before progressing further with the idol in the morning.

The festivity

The specially designed boats are decorated with colours, colourful flags and other decorations before they actually take part in the race. The riders as well are dressed in colourful clothing and hold colourful flags in their hands. At the time of the boat race the song of oarsmen is sung by the riders and the crowd and the whole place is echoed with the tune of the mystic song. The speciality of the race is that, each boat participating in the race connects with the other with the colourful parasols and the strokes are nothing less than an exact example of the performing arts.

A total of 19 boats participate in different categories of the race and the beauty of the colour drenched riders competing with each other riding on the 100 feet long narrow wooden boats offers a spectacular site to the viewers. This festivity and the thrill of the race attracts the tourists to the place and they leave just no stone unturned in order to participate in the festivity in every way.  The location of the race takes the shape of a fair and is enjoyed by every attending individual.

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