65th Nehru Trophy Snake Boat Race 12th August 2017 at Punnamada Lake, Alleppey
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is conducted on the Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha, on the second Saturday of August every year. On the day of this fiercely fought boat race, the tranquil lake front is transformed into a sea of humanity with an estimated two lakh people, including tourists from abroad for watching it. For the people of each village in Kuttanad, a victory at this race for their village boat is something to be celebrated for months to come.
In Kuttanadu (Alleppey), the land of lakes and rivers, snake boat racing is something of cult, just as bull fighting is in Spain. Sleek and immaculately poised, the snake boats are the pride of every village. These race boats dominate the thoughts and actions of the people of this region during the months of August and September, when newly 20 minor and major regattas are held.
The water festival in Kuttanad is unique. No other country in the world has such festivities. The large number of participants in a racing boat marks still the uniqueness that no other sport in the world has such a large number in a team. The synchronized way of rowing needs long and devoted training and inherent aptitude. Those who steer the vessel need through knowledge of water current, observation power of high order, and they must be well versed in the different aspects of boat racing. The most notable fact in the races of boats is that a single neglected act of a single participant will lead a boat to lose in the race.
Most of the major water festivals of the region are associated with legends connected with famous temples like champakkulam (Ambalapuzha), Payipad (Haripad) and Aranmula. These festivals best retain the flavour of ancient Kerala culture, especially the Uthrithathi boat race on the Pampa , in Aranmula, where devotion, music and the sheer artistry and grandeur of the boats, known as Palliyodams , make it a unique experience for the spectators.