The backwaters of Kerala apart from being a major tourist attraction are also venues for yet another splendid, unparalleled attraction of God`s Own Country - Boat Races. The boat festivals of Kerala are one of the chief and popular festivals of Kerala that tourist must experience during their Kerala travel and tour. Kerala boat races are an event that is as much part of the land`s ethos and is a sport that signifies the excellent team spirit, integration and amity of the people.
The vibrant fiestas that bring alive the tranquil Kerala backwaters, when fierce Vallom Kallies (boat races) and water carnivals erupt every year in a dramatic spectacle and hold tens of thousands of people spell-bound, cheering the action, laying bets, goading the boatmen to row faster.
The grand festival of Onam, is celebrated with great zest, in the picturesque state of Kerala, in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The most exciting part of this festival is the snake boat race, held at various places in the state, on the palm - fringed waters. The boats used in this thrilling contest of Vallamkali (boat race), are kite - tailed, and rather swan - shaped.
The most spectacular of the boat races, are those held at Aranmula, Champakulam and Kottayam. About a hundred oarsmen row the huge, yet graceful boats. Oars dig, and flash to the rousing rhythm of drums, and the crash of cymbals in each boat, while the songs sung by the participants are generally typical in character. Each boat hoists green and scarlet silk-umbrellas, and their number denotes the affluence of the family, to which the boat belongs. Gold coins and tassels are hung on the umbrellas to as adornments.
These races are keenly contested, and reflect a high degree of sporting prowess and excellence