Sree Narayana Jayanthi Boat Race
|The annual boat race at Kumarakom is different from the other famous boat races of Kerala like the Nehru Trophy race and the race at Aranmula. While the others are either ritualistic or competitive events, the Kumarakom boat race is held in remembrance of the great social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru’s visit to the village.
Records say that Sree Narayana Guru, the great social reformer of Kerala, visited Kumarakom in 1903. He reached the village in a boat from Alappuzha, accompanied by a procession of boats. During the visit, the guru established a temple of Subrahmanya (Sree Kumara Mangalam Temple) in Kumarakom.
Sree Narayana Guru’s visit is commemorated by the villagers, irrespective of caste or religion, during the annual boat race.
The boat race is conducted on Sree Narayana Guru Jayanthi Day, which usually falls in August / September (the asterism of Chathayam in the Malayalam month of Chingam). A grand procession of country boats carrying the portrait of Sree Narayana Guru, from the Kumaramangalam Temple to Kottathodu, is held on this day. Around 55 years ago, this ritual paved the way for a boat race with Kottathodu as the venue.
The procession is accompanied by various music and dance performances such as the Garudan, the Panchavadyam and the Nadaswaram. Sports competitions are also held in connection with the race. The events at the venues include art forms like Thiruvathirakkali, Kolkkali, Theyyam and so on.
Hundreds of oarsmen in many kinds of boats like the Chundan, the Iruttukuthy, the Churulan and the Veppu take part in the boat race. The Iruttukuthy race is the important boat one. The Iruttukuthy which wins the race is awarded the Sree Narayana Ever-Rolling Trophy.