Aranmula Uthrattathi boat race all set to begin; overnight rains revive the festive mood

The procession of Palliyodams in the water stadium in Pampa will begin at 1 pm. The finals are expected around 4 pm. File Photo: Arun John/Manorama

Aranmula (Pathanamthitta): With a couple of hours left for the annual Uthrattathi boat regatta to kick off, a festive mood has engulfed Aranmula in Pathanamthitta with the rhymes and rhythms of the ‘Vanchipattu’ (boat songs) reverberating across the banks of the holy Pampa river.  The procession of Palliyodams in the water stadium in Pampa will begin at 1 pm. The finals are expected around 4 pm.

The annual water carnival, which marks the anniversary of the idol installation at the Sree Parthasarathy temple, is regarded as one of the oldest events of its kind in the state.

The overnight rains that lashed the region have wiped out the concerns regarding the low water level in the Pampa while the forecast for more showers during the day has added to the excitement. At the same time, the Water Resources department has made arrangements to release water from the Maniyar barrage of the Pampa Irrigation Project if the need arises.

The removal of mud banks, which began about a week earlier, is yet to be completed. But with the district recording an average overnight rainfall of 80 mm, the mud banks are not expected to cause much of a problem to the free movement of snake boats, locally known as ‘Palliyodams’.

The rowers, meanwhile, have begun decorating the Palliyodams by stationing them at various river ghats near Aranmula temple. According to the Palliyoda Seva Sangom, as many as 51 Palliyodams will take part in the pageantry while 48 of them will take part in the race, to be held after a break of six years.

32 boats will contest in the ‘A’ batch, which will have nine heats and three semi-finals. The remaining 16 boats will contest in the ‘B’ batch and the winners of each of the four heat rounds will enter directly into the finals. Those winning the finals in respective batches will be presented with the Mannal Trophy, Devaswom Board Trophy, and a cash award.

The team that performs best in the water procession will be awarded the Shankar Memorial Trophy.

Minister for Cultural Affairs Saji Cherian will inaugurate the water festival at a function to be attended by Agriculture Minister P Prasad, District Panchayat president Omallur Shankaran, celebrity guests Unni Mukundan and Devananda, among others. Travancore Devaswom Board president K Ananthagopan will flag off the boat race. Health Minister Veena George will inaugurate the water procession of Palliyodams.

Noted Screenwriter Abhilash Pillai will be presented with the Ramapurathu Warrier award on the occasion. NSS treasurer N V Ayyappan Pillai will present the award for the boat race winners.

The authorities have made elaborate arrangements to ensure the smooth conduct of the event and as many as 650 police personnel have been deployed, besides opening special parking grounds. The district collector has declared a holiday for all government offices and educational institutions for the day.

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