Snake Boat races are the largest team sport in the world. These races integrate team spirit, adventure and a great sense of rhythm. A number of small boats also participate in these events. Usually, a snake boat is manned by four helmsmen, 25 singers, and 100-125 oarsmen, who row in unison according to the fast rhythm of the racing songs. The songs sung by the helmsman is known as ‘Vanchipaatu’. Boat races take place seasonally. The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race in Jun-Jul at Alappuzha, the Aranmula Boat Race in Aug-Sep at Aranmula, the Payippad Jalotsvam during the Onam festival in Aug-Sep at Alappuzha, and the Nehru Trophy Boat Race in the second Saturday of August at Punnamada Lake-Alappuzha. The following photographs were taken at the Payippad Jalotsvam Boat Race by Mr. Joshi Manjummel during the last Onam festival in August-2011.
This boat race is held in memory of the installation of the deity at Haripad Subramanya temple. The three day annual festival commences on Onam festival day. The competition takes place on the third day.