Villagemen prepare the snakeboa for the snakeboat race for the Vallamkali (Boatrace), which is very unique in these parts of God's Own Country, Kerala.
Chundan Vallam (Beaked Boat), known to the outside world as Kerala snake boats, are one of the icons of Kerala culture used in the Vallamkali (boat race.)
Constructed according to specifications taken from the Sthapathya Veda, an ancient treatise for the building of wooden boats, these boats vary from 100 to 138 ft in length. With the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft., and a long tapering front portion, it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide. Its a marvelous example of ancient Indians' prowess in Naval Architecture.
Traditionally each boat belongs to a village, and the villagers worship that boat like a deity. Only men are allowed to touch the boat, and to show respect they should be barefooted. To make the boat slippery while in the water and to reduce absorption of water and thereby reduce the resistance of the hull, it is oiled with a mixture of fish oil, coconut shell carbon and eggs. Repair work is done annually by the village carpenter.
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