grand festival of Onam, is celebrated with great zest, in the
picturesque state of Kerala, in the Malayalam month of Chingam. The most
exciting part of this festival is the snake boat race, held at various
places in the state, on the palm - fringed waters. The boats used in
this thrilling contest of Vallamkali (boat race), are kite -
tailed, and rather swan - shaped.
The most spectacular of the boat races, are
those held at Aranmula, Champakulam and Kottayam. About a hundred
oarsmen row the huge, yet graceful boats. Oars dig, and flash to the
rousing rhythm of drums, and the crash of cymbals in each boat, while
the songs sung by the participants are generally typical in character.
Each boat hoists green and scarlet silk-umbrellas, and their number
denotes the affluence of the family, to which the boat belongs. Gold
coins and tassels are hung on the umbrellas to as adornments.
These races are keenly contested, and reflect a
high degree of sporting prowess and excellence