The 66th Nehru Trophy Boat Race held on November 10 at the Punnamada Lake in Kuttanad, Alappuzha and saw the participation of 81 boats, including 25 snake boats. The race usually takes place in August but this year, it was postponed due to the devastating Kerala floods.
The major attraction of the races is snake (chundan) boats with a boat traditionally belonging to a village. With 10 boats up for winning cash prizes, a victory is celebrated for months. Snake boats are over 100 feet in length, with the rear portion rising to a height of around 20 feet — resembling a snake. The boats are worshipped by the villagers like a deity, with only men being allowed to touch the boat. 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, the ash of coconut shells, and eggs.
The first-ever Nehru Boat Race was conducted in 1952 to honour the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he visited Alappuzha.