Home to a culture that is considered to be one of the richest cultures in the world, Kerala is one of the best-kept secrets of India. A culture in which the heritage of the land is proudly preserved in the hearths and hearts of all the people of the land, a study into the culture of Kerala is a fascinating tale of natural beauty coupled with an ancient heritage. Perhaps no other aspect of the heritage of Kerala exhibits it as much as do the various festivals in Kerala, notable among which is the Champakkulam Boat Race.

Champakulam Boat Race
Time for celebrating the Champakkulam Boat Race

The Champakkulam Boat Race is all set to begin on July 15, this year. The festival, which is one of the most-awaited events in the calendar of Kerala, has an origin which dates back to centuries in time. This spectacular snake boat race is held on the River Pampa on the day of the ‘moolam’, which is followed in accordance with the Malayalam month of Midhunam. The day is considered to be especially sacred as it is the day when the Deity at the AmbalappuzhaSree Krishna Temple was installed.

Description of Champakkulam Boat Race

The Champakulam Boat Race is held in accordance with a legend which is strongly adhered to by the people of Kerala. According to the legend, the king of Chempakasseri in Devanarayana, under the influence of instructions, provided to him by the royal priest erected a temple in his kingdom. However, just before the installation, he was informed that the idol was not auspicious. To make amends, the king brought the idol of Sree Krishna from the Karikulam temple in Kurichi, which legend claimed was handed over to Arjuna by Lord Krishna himself. It was during this journey that the king made a stopover at Champakulam. The next morning saw thousands of boats assembled at the site in a riot of colors in order to honor the sacred event and to escort the idol home

It is this scene which is enacted in this part of the world every year and which is known as the Champakkulam Boat Race.

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Champakulam Boat RaceChampakkulam boat race is the first in the list of all boat races that are held in Kerala. The Champakkulam boat race of Kerala is held according to the Malayalam calendar. Usually, it is held on Moolam Vallamkali. Moolam signifies a Malayalam star or Nakshathram of the month Mithunam. In Kerala, Champakkulam boat race is held on the river Pampa. It is regarded as the oldest in all boat races. Since it is the most popular of all boat races, the turn over of people who come to witness the event is huge. The Champakkulam boat race has an interesting legend behind it.

In the days of yore, Maharaja Devanarayana of Chempakasseri was instructed by the royal priest to build a temple at Ambalappuzha. However, before he could install he deity, he came to know that the idol was not propitious. The King was anxious to find a solution to this problem. His faithful minister suggested a brilliant way out of this problem. He said the beautiful idol of Lord Krishna at the temple in Kurichi, which was presented by Arjuna himself, should be brought to this temple. The minister went there and arrived back with the idol.

While coming back, they stopped for a night at Champakkulam to perform a holy ceremony. The following morning, a colorful procession of beautifully decorated boats assembled to escort the auspicious idol to the temple across a lake. Today, the Champakkulam boat race is held in the same honor and the age-old tradition is kept alive till date. A striking demonstration of water floats and decorated boats greet the spectators before the race. It is a time to spread cheer and well being all around.

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