History of Vallam Kali
This traditional art originated in Assyria, on a New Year's Day in 300 BC. It was also organized by several ancient Indian states. In South Indian state of Kerala, during an early 14th-century war between the feudal kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Chembakassery, King Devanarayana of Chembakassery commissioned the construction of a war boat called ‘Chundan Vallam’. He assigned a notable carpenter to create the boat. These snake boats are believed to be around 650 years old. Among all the snake boats, the Parthasarathi Chundan is the oldest model.
Celebration of Vallam Kali
The Vallam Kali or snake boat race in Kerala is mainly held in connection with the harvest festival, Onam, during the month of August or September. More than 30 wonderfully crafted snake boats compete with each other during the event. The distance of the race is 40 km and it is mainly conducted from the hills to the low-lying plains. ‘Vanchipattu’ is a poetry form in Malayalam language, which is commonly used during Vallam Kali and other related festivals.
Churulan Vallam, Iruttukuthy Vallam, Odi Vallam, Veppu Vallam, Vadakkanody Vallam and Kochu Vallam are the other types of boats which participate in various events in the race. The ‘Nehru Trophy Boat Race’ is one of the famous Vallam Kali events organized in the Punnamada Lakenear Alappuzha, Kerala.
The people of Kerala also enjoy some of the other forms of cultural functions before the starting of the Vallam Kali including some colourful parades. The functions also include 25 singers and 100-125 oarsmen to organize few programs before the race. Though the Vallam Kali or boat race is played in all the parts of Kerala, the places like Aranmula on the Pamba River in the Kuttanad region, Papiyad near Quilon, and Thayathangadi near Kottayam are the most popular for organizing the Vallam Kali race.
Major Events of Vallam Kali
Some of the most popular events of Vallam Kali are Kandassankadavu boat race, Nehru Trophy Boat Race, Triprayar boat race, Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali, President's Trophy Boat Race, Kallada Boat Race, Pampa Boat Race, Champakulam Moolam Boat Race, Kumarakom Boat Race, Payippad Jalotsavam, Kannetty Sree Narayana Boat Race, Thazhathangadi Boat Race, Gothuruth Boat Race, Piravom Boat Race etc.