SNAKE BOAT CARNIVAL OF ARANMULA
Resplendent with legendary glory in the famous village of Aranmula 128 kms from Trivandrum situated on the bank of the holy river Pamba. Aranmula is known for the temple dedicated to Sree Parthasarathy of Lord Krishna as the divine charioteer of Arjuna. One among the 108 sacred places of vishnavaites in Bharatha Varsha. The centuries old temple of the Lord Thiruaranmula famous in story and song gazes down from its eminence at the flowings waters of the holy river Pampa. A rough estimate puts its age to 1800 years.
According to Sthalapurana its age dates back to the era of Pandava princes and post Mahabharatha war period. Its glories are sung by the alwar saint namalwar in the devotional work thiruvaymozhi in the later 5th century. In the cadjan manuscript of the 12th century in Malayalam Thirunizhalmala. The ballad dwells on the rituals performed by the hill folk to ward of certain ills from befalling the Lord. This illustrate the positions he commanded not only in the spiritual circles but also among the simple unsophisticated tribes, even so early on the calendar of time its fame had spread to far of places ma be as an indication to its future national and even international exposure.
The Lord of Thiruarnmula has a good number of festivals rich in tradition and colour. And all-important was the traditional snake boat race on the Pampa waters in which only the decorated palliyodams(snake boats) belonging to karas or villages on either side of the river. The age-old event hit international tourist map and attract people across the continents. The spectacular regatta is believed to be seven hundred years old.
The aquatic carnival of Aranmula is unique in more than one thing. Firstly it is unique in that than one thing. Firstly it is unique in that the beautiful decorated snakes boats(Palliyodams) dedicated to the deity Lord Parthasarathy carrying more than a hundred oarsmen parade the waters in a procession the pomp and glory of which have got to be seen to be believed. It is believed that this palliyodams were built for the protection of the Thiruvonathoni, which brings food materials from Mangat Illam Kattoor, 8 kms east of Aranmula to the Parthasarathy temple for the Thiruvonam feast to be served in the temple. It is said a Brahmin family of Kattoor used to feed celibate monks on Thiruvonam day. One year no monks turned up. The Lord Krishna came to the family's rescue. Disguised as a young celibate monk appeared before the family and received the offerings. And later in a dream he asked the family that it was enough if the feast was offered at the temple. Later on a Onam day a country craft locally called Odam carrying rice and other offering to the temple was attacked by the dacoits. The next year onwards, people from the surrounding villages escorted the Odam in huge boats. This marked the beginning of the palliyodams. It is believed that the shape of the boat, its front resembling the raised hood of a snake was suggested to its original architects in a dream by the deity of the temple called Aranmula Appan.
The boats which take parts in the race now belongs to 35 villages and being dedicated to the deity some believe that the uthrittathi is the anniversary of the installation of the idol one of the five believed to be consecrated in the south by the Pandavas. Devotees consider the snake boat pageantry as an offering to the Lord.
Serene in the spiritual oura disseminated by the presiding deity Thiruaranmula Appan (Lord Parthasarathy) this village comes to vigorous life in the month of Chingam(August/September) in preperation for this world famous snake boat carnival, which falls due on Uthrittathi 3 days after the national harvest festival of Onam. This year it's on 19th September. Reminiscent of saga of communal harmony spiritual devotion, and ritualistic fervour the boat race attracts thousands.
BOAT SONGS OR VANCHIPPATTU : are another important contribution of the festival .
These songs mostly folklores later developed into a separate branch of Malayalam literature largely due to the contributions of the great poet like Ramapurathu Varrier live in 18th century AD. Who wrote the famous Kuchelavritham vanchippattu. Many of the songs are rich in content and high literary quality.
The Enigmatic Mirror from Aranmula - Kerala Mysterious in its creation unequalled in it beauty, the Aranmula Kannadi is a unique object. Exclusive to Aranmula, this mirror is made of metal, not glass ! Therein lies its uniqueness and its creation, a closely guarded secret, known to any few families, has been handed down from father to son for generations.