The Aranmula Boat Race(aranmula vallam kali) is organized during the Onam festival which takes place in the month of August/September.
This interesting race is held at Pampa river in Aranmula, Kerala. It is a two-day event and has a very intriguing legend behind the celebration. The story tells of a Brahmin who pledged to feed one pilgrim each day. Then one day Lord Krishna disguised himself as a pilgrim and appeared before the Brahmin. Overjoyed at getting “darshan” of the Lord, he swore to offer 51 measures of rice and the provision for the Thiruvona Sadya (Onam feast) at the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple, situated near the Pampa river. These offerings were arranged to be carried across the river by boats. However, adversary from another village seizes the boat carrying the offerings. The villagers rush to the rescue of the Brahmin with boats. Afterward, a fleet of palliyodam (huge luxurious snake boat used by gods and royalty) carried the offerings to the temple. Since then, then Aranmula Uthrattadi Vallamkali is organized on the Pampa river where the legend is enacted.
A fleet of fourty boats participate in the race. On the first day of the race, a water carnival is held on the lake, with huge idol of Lord Krishna ( partha sarathi )and children dressed as nymphs and princesses. On the second day, snake boats are assembled near the temple; each boat representing a village along the banks of the Pampa River. The boats, carrying helmsmen, oarsmen and singers, are beautifully decorated with silk parasols and golden lace. The proper race begins in the afternoon amidst great euphoria