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The 69th Nehru Trophy Boat Race is primed to set the Punnamada waters on fire on 12th August 2023! It is a thrilling contest between the traditiona 'vallams' (boats) of Kerala held every year at the Punnamda Lake, near Alappuzha. Although several kinds of boats take part in the race, the highlight of the event is the 'Chundan vallam' or snake boat race.
The legendary event started as an impromptu race between snake boats which was held to welcome India's first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, when he visited Kerala in 1952. Pt. Nehru was so impressed by the snake boats that he went for a spontaneous cruise on one. Later, he presented the winner with a silver model of the snake boat, thus lending his name to the rolling trophy and the race. Since then, it has become an annual festival for the people of Kerala, a celebration of the spirit of oneness and pride that the land invokes in them.
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is preceded by several months of preparation by the participants as well as their village. On the day of the race, the lakefront transforms into a whirlwind of colour and sound with traditional dance performances and folk songs. The air becomes charged with excited energy as the oarsmen row to the rhythm of 'vanchipattu', which means 'boat song'. The race transforms calm waters into a supersonic festival, where every moment is a celebration. Loved and attended by people the world over, Kerala's beloved sport is a source of pride and excitement to every Malayali.