Boat Race: Celebrating Kerala's Fascination for Water
The Nehru trophy regatta, instituted by former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at Alappuzha on August 14 every year has become a regular Independence Day feature. A wide variety of boats take part in the competition from bean-shaped boats to the kitetailed and curly-headed ones. These snake boats as they are called, measure between 30 and 60 metres with tall, cone-shaped, tapering helms extend several metres above the water and accommodates around 120 oarsmen in two rows of 60 each.
The majesty with which these boats plough through the waters to the rhythm of drums and cymbals and legendary songs, typical of Kerala, has to be seen to be believed. Scarlet silk umbrellas decorate the boats as they go in a procession on the backwaters, reminding those seeing them of the sea-faring and martial traditions of ancient Kerala. The boat race is part of the Kerala Water Carnival.
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