The annual Uthrittathi Vallamkali, snakeboat regatta, held in river Pampa with much enthusiasm and glory on Sunday marked the grand finale of Onam celebrations in the Central Travancore region of Kerala.
The small hamlet of Aranmula situated on the banks of Pampa woke up hearing the snakeboats aka “Palliyodams’ singing Vanchippattu, verses in praise of Lord Parthasarathy.
River Pampa was dazzled with the majestic Palliyodams, snakeboats, turned up to take part in the spectacular boat pageantry.
The annual regatta turned out to be a major crowd puller with people from different parts of the State and outside Kerala thronging the banks of Pampa from Sunday forenoon itself.
The event marked the anniversary of idol installation at the centuries’ old Sree Parthasarathy Temple on the banks of Pampa. Legend has it that Arjuna the ace archer among the Pandavas had installed the idol of Lord Parthasarathy who was his charioteer in the war of Kurukshetra at the Aranmula temple.
Palliyoda Seva Sanghom, an apex body of various karayogams that own Palliyodam, has been organising the snakeboat regatta in its present form since the past few decades. Though the regatta is closely associated with the Parthasarathy Temple and its tradition, people cutting across different religious faiths have taken it a celebration time for the entire village, making it a symbol of communal harmony.
To the people of Aranmula, Uthrittathi during the Onam festival is the day when the celebrations reach its peak. Boats decorated with colourful ornaments and gold began to gather on the Pampa ahead of the spectacular regatta from the morning itself.
The mood was upbeat in this part of the Pampa river basin and snakeboats from 51 villages in and around Aranmula rowed up the Pampa to take part in the ceremonial event.
The event was inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy and the snakeboat pageantry was flagged off by the Acting Chief Justice of Kerala High Court, Manjula Chellur at 2 pm.
The Palliyodams moved along in batches with the accompaniments of the rhythmic Vanchippattu. A total of 51 snakeboats tok part in the procession.
The event reached its crescendo with the beginning of the snakeboat race after the colourful pageantry at 3.15 pm. The man-powered snakeboats cutting the Pampa waters with an added verve for a fast finish amidst encouraging shouts and claps from the galleries on either banks of the river was a spectacular sight to watch.
Curtains were down for this year’s unique snakeboat regatta of Aranmula with the trophy presentation to the winners, later, in the afternoon.