18 September 2006

ARANMULA BOAT RACE 2006

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Not again, Not another boat race ! This is the last one I promise, no more boat races. But this one is different, not like Alleppy boat race you saw last month. This is more religious and ritualistic. Infact this is not a boat race at all, more like a procession.


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The place is Aranmula, near Chengannur, Takes place after Onam, Harvest festival of Kerala. The festivities go on for a week throughout Kerala. Very colourful, lots of flowers. The boats also more colourful than the Alleppy boat race which takes place on backwaters, where as this is a river, don't know the name.


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Here, devotion to gods is involved, Perhaps thanking god for a good harvest, Its like they are rowing for god. Then why do you call stupid politicians for the function ? They go on ranting non stop,delaying the race, I didn't have lunch, just wanted to take a few quick pictures and run


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Don't know if there is any prize money involved like Alleppy boat race, they were rowing peacefully, no frantic efforts like Alleppy, afterall they are rowing for god, no hurry, god has time.


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Nirmal asked a question, What happens to the boats rest of the year ? No one asks such a question. I never thought of that.
Good question Nirmal.
They are pretty useless actually. Can't be used for transport, can't be used for fishing when it takes so many to row, they lie in cold storage right through the year. Took this picture last year.


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They take the boats out during the festival, take the rain water out, wash it, clean it. Some get a fresh coat of paint. This picture was taken a day before the race.


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All the members of a team offer prayers at the Aranmula temple before the race, here they are entering the temple. Non Hindus are forbidden from entering. There's a warning board there. I walked in, took a few quick shots, I was out before somebody could jump on me, they are pretty allergic to the cameras. Men are supposed to remove their shirt before entering the temple.


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The team members walking towards the boat singing, chanting mantras.


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The pujari, the priest, is carrying fire in a deepam, he may not be a pujari, perhaps the team leader and this could be the team leader's wife carrying the fire.


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They place the fire in the boat, not a very good idea, and offer puja, prayers and make other offering to god like bananas, bananas ?? for the fish ? I don't think so , perhaps they eat it themselves after the race.


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All geared up, Ready to go, after the prayers, I told you this is more religious when compared to the Alleppy boat race. More rituals involved.


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Not very oderly, they all go to the starting point, far from where I was standing, They all wait for the politicians to arrive. I heard the announcement that the chief guest whoever he was, is going to be late. Not a good news for me, just look here at this picture below, things were not looking too good, it was getting dark early afternoon and the sky is just about to open up.


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My friend Sathyaraj gave me an umbrella for Alleppy boat race, here I had no umbrella, had to look for some shelter.


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After a long wait came the long and killing speeches of the politicians. Then came the songs, some poor chap screaming his heart out, what a torture it was. I was hungry, not the right time to enjoy music and it started to rain. Ran for shelter.


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I completely missed Mohini attam, Kerala's classical dance, very graceful, being performed in boats, it was very far from where I was standing, they were supposed to dance for god, here they are dancing for the politicians. Main event is something else, they were like cheer leaders, I don't like cheer leaders concept. Its an insult to the art of dancing. Cheer leaders put in such great efforts to practice and it involves great deal of dedication, and they perform before or during a game. What a waste of efforts !


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They were going and going and going, went out of sight, don't know where the finishing line was, I did not stay as it started to rain again, I was hungry, You get pretty rotten food there, never eat at places of pilgrimage or at any place where crowd gathers. I am not strong and I can't fight my way into a bus, so had to leave fast, and I left.


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BLUNT KNIFE
WILDPIC

44 comments:

Suji said...

Awesome pics!

Rauf said...

Thank you Suji

ruth said...

Dear Rauf, thank you for the glorious travelog. The photographs are stunning, with the structural lines of the boats, the fog and clouds, the colorful umbrellas.

I had to laugh when I saw the third to the last pic, with these men looking as timeless as if they were back from thousands of years ago, and there was a bright beautiful chrome watch!

I love your perspective, always, and your sense of humor.

mala said...

wow!
I love the new look Rauf.
had a lot of catching up to do.
yr blog is developing into a Desi Discovery/NatGeo(ok short fr national geographic).
FANTASTIC
The rain-clouds gathering shots remind me of good ol Turner...

AND!!! oh so casually you slipped in your own photograph. Lovely.and yes that lo-tech villager is good!
The weaver bird episode is too good(ok Im running out of original words of praise)
Ok LAND UP soon.
whats new? Megha says bow wow for dog
Hugs,
mala

Sangita said...

This is soo colorful and pretty..Did not know abt such a ceremony and yeah ur pics always better the earlier ones..U must be having loads of collectio at ur place..Do u not feel like getting hard prints of all of them and putting them on ur walls..Now I a curious so u going to sell these pics to nat geo kya? aur u can make a documentary itself..Did u do that then let me know I will watch the same on TV when it comes..I liked the second of ur template..But for my page I want some cool look like clouds water.U know that seren feeling.Is it possile for u to get that..Plz ignore if u think I am asking for too much..Woho what a long message

Cindy said...

I love these peeks into a whole other culture that you give us through your pictures

ari4u said...

Rauf, This is fantastic. The boats look very majestic and grand. You have taken pictures from every possible angle, wonder how much you had to run. Excellent pics!

The pictures i love are the ones where you seem to have frozen time and action, the water splash frozen along with the expression and energy in the pics. The coconut trees in the back add to the beauty.

Thanks again for the detailed account. Take care

Rauf said...

Sorry I took time to respond to comments as my system is misbehaving again, restarting on its own. Technicians couldn't locate any fault. Only option left for me is to call an exorcist, magician, or a faith healer, we don't have any voodoo practitioners, never heard of them in these parts, but there are many black magicians in Kerala. My room would be full of insence smoke, some skulls and they will hit my CPU with brooms chanting mantras.
Perhaps my system would start behaving. VOOOOHOOO. I am in a hurry to post this comment before it restarts on its own.
Any suggestions ?

Rauf said...

Dear Ruth, There were quite few guys in the rowing team with mobiles, now I regret not taking a picture of some one talking on a mobile while rowing. This is not much of a race, as there were some members who were not rowing just standing and talking on mobiles. People of Kerala are crazy about gadgets as atleast one member of the family works abroad. I have seen them lugging along huge mattresses in the airports. You would find two extremes in India but more in Kerala. I have seen pujaaris, the priests conducting prayers and weddings in temples with mobiles. In one such ritual mobile of a pujari went off screaming a tamil song as his ring tone.

Rauf said...

Mala, while posting my reply to your comment this stupid thing went off twice, restarting on its own. It needs to be kicked by Raju

I love Turner's train I always wanted to take a picture like that and it is always on my mind but couldn't find the right landscape, I have to be outside as I am always inside a train when I think of taking such a picture. Like the train scene in Patherpanchali. Terrific landscape there in the movie.

I am all alone at home Mala, have to lock the house, I called but no one picked it up, I'll come tomorrow

Rauf said...

Sangita, I'd be too glad to make a template for you. I'll design a cool one, blue green is in my mind I'll give you a couple of options, let my system settle down first.
This stupid restarting thing is irritating, I lose all the work I have done if I have not saved. Now designing templates has become my passion. Think of some name, 'My world' sounds good, if you have a favourite quote or lyrics from a song anything you like. Say four to six lines.

Rauf said...

Sangita, yes I have tonnes of pictures which never saw the light of the day, never thought of making prints and all my Himachal Kashmir sikkim himalayan trek pictures are simply gathering dust.

Rauf said...

Cindy, Culture language and food changes every hundred miles here in India. Too much diversity. India is a miracle country, some strange factor is holding it together. It has countless problems too. Hygene is the last priority here. The area around the temple in the picture is very dirty, people don't cooperate, they keep throwing garbage on the banks of the river. Went there a day before where the muncipalty was cleaning up all the garbage.

Rauf said...

Next time We'll go together Aamir with Sl. She'll love the place, hope boo is around too. You can't eat there but you get terrific food ten KMs away. Thick rice but very tasty, I love it. The surrounding area full of paddy fields is very beautiful. Saw lots of parrots in one single tree as i was passing in a bus, couldn't stop to take pictures.

Anonymous said...

Hello Unc,
Great pictures!!
Ready for a trek?
ben

Rauf said...

Thank you Ben,
Ben ? Bessell ??
How are you ?
Sure ! where do you want to go ??
Welcome to my blog.

FOUR DINNERS said...

What an extraordinary country you live in. Love to see something like this but your pics will have to do for now. Can't envisage them rowing up the Thames somehow. Pity.

Rauf said...

FOUR DINNERS, You have Oxford Cambridge annual race and an unforgettable Wooster experience, he steals a policeman's helmet and fined 5 quids for the offence. He gives a false name and a wrong address. Hillarious !! love to see the race, have watched it on the telly 20 years ago.

samuru999 said...

rauf
Thank you for all that!
The pics are so wonderful... and the story just fantastic!
So very inspiring!
I love it!
Have a wonderful day!

Margie:)

Rauf said...

Thank you Margie

Imemine said...

Boat race in epic proportion. Splendid photos of Continental India!

Rauf said...

Thanks Imemine, come to India

Patty said...

Rauf, how fantastic! Very grand images and scenery! I'm glad I finally have some time to comment here!!! The mist in the photos is very beautiful! Sad that people are throwing trash in the water/area. I noticed everyone in the crowd has a black umbrella except one person with a pink/orange colorful one. Are colored umbrellas not popular? The colorful umbrellas held by the boat people are gorgeous though. And the boat design is amazing! I never would have even thought of where the boats go during the rest of the year if you hadn't written about it. i also like the new image you put at the top of your site!

hugggs, Rauf!

e2d said...

Wow Rauf! It's like going back in time....but the spell breaks when politicians with their loud,silly speeches make an appearance or that pink dreadful building in the background (somebody's house i am sure. Cannot understand mallus' obsession with huge concrete houses)or the stupid motorboats, or like Ruth said--the guy with the fancy chrome watch. If there was someway I could make all that disappear..

Thank u Rauf..simply beautiful.The rain clouds were perfect I think.Wish i had a chance to see all this.

Rauf said...

It is not mist Patty, its pretty warm over there, took those pictures right after some crackers were fired, very noisy and irritating, came right after the long and speeches of politicians. I panicked when i saw the smoke, thought all the boat race pictures were ruined.

Coloured umbrellas are very popular in Kerala, Somewhere in blunt knife I have posted pictures of coloured umbrellas.
The template images will keep changing Patty, Now I have some better ideas.
lots of love and hugs.

Rauf said...

I noticed the building only now e2dees, so,many people inside, dangerous, A friend of mine proudly presented his church, How's is our church Rauf ? I said I would love to eat it, it looks like a wedding cake. Pink and white. He got angry. You should see the use of marble, no where in the country you'll find such use of marble and a marble yard every ten kilometers. You will not find such use of marble even in Rajasthan where it comes from. I love old houses, I'll post some pictures of old houses i took in palakkat
lots of love and hugs e2dees

Cristina said...

You take the most amazing photos, Rauf. I especially love the bright colors of the decorations and the movement of the water. And the people! What amazing people. And thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I never cared for cheerleaders either, and was very relieved that my daughter has no interest in such things, although of course I would support her if she wanted to do that. Thanks for sharing these incredible shots.

Cristina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rauf said...

Thank you Cristina,
Any form of dance performed at a bigger sporting event is quite insulting to the art. 'Mohini Attam' is one of classical dance form of South India. very graceful with fluid movements, has religious significance. Performing on a boat is a bad idea in the first place, Performing for the sponsors and the politicians is pretty insulting for the art and the artistes. You can see them dancing in the background in a couple of pictures while the boat race is on.

Gangadhar said...

Fantastic pics,Rauf..
I got an irresistible feeling that..Me defintely wanna witness these boat races next time...I'm sure..
And the people in all the pics seem like so pure and genuine!! All becos of ur photography or something else?
Thanks for sharing such a wonderful pics,Rauf..

Rauf said...

Always second week of September Gangadhar, second saturday to be precise. Hyd - Ernakulam - Chengannur - Bus - half an hour or less to Aranmula.

If you want a romantic journey
Hyd-Chennai-Tenkasi-Sencottai-Punalur -Bus-Pattinamthitta- Aranmula.
You have seen Sencottai Punalur journey pictures in my previous post.

Gangadhar said...

Oh,Rauf that's a nice information..Thank you verymuch!

Rauf said...

Welcome Gangadhar, Your friends from Kerala would remind you, its right after Onam.

"Angeldust" said...

Epic.
THIS is breathtaking!


Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind words.
I am happy to hear about your friend, belief certainly adds to the equation.
Incidentally, I just finished my first moonstone piece, will be posting it sometimes next week.

Love and joy to you

Rauf said...

Thank you Angeldust, I'll try to make the page smaller. Too many pictures sometimes. Takes time to load. Thanks for your patience Angeldust.

mysti said...

What a wonderful site you have here! I just loved all the pictures. You have opened up a world for me that I would normally be unable to see. Thank you for this! The artist in me wants to paint most all the pictures I have seen on your blog.

May you have a blessed day! :)

Rauf said...

Thank You Mysti,
All my pictures have no copy rights, please feel free to paint any of them, I'd be too glad if you have any use for them. These are small and compressed images for faster download, I can mail you the original file.
Thank you so much for your blessings Mysti

John said...

Sensational Shots, all of them.. they give a real feel for the day and for your country. Superb, Well done Rauf!

Rauf said...

Thank you John, I sincerely believe that any part of the world has something unique to offer.

Rauf said...

John, saw your Melbourne city site. Spectacular pictures there. I am thinking on the same line, having daily photo blog of Chennai, the city where I live.

kathy said...

Hi Rauf,

I so enjoyed viewing your photos! Beautiful Shots! Hope your weekend was great!

(((Hugs)))

Rauf said...

Kathy Hi
How was your week ? Where did you go ? took any pictures ? Hope you had great time. I was at home. Did not go anywhere,
love and hugs Kathy.

Lord Boo said...

that was a nice informative post, Poms ! i always confuse Onam with such religious boat stuff, but great info ! and i loved the pics, especially the second one, with the grey clouds looming behind! terrific natural backdrop to the water and trees ! i miss India even more :( *hugs*

Rauf said...

You are not confusing Onam with anything meri piyaari boo ! THIS IS ONAM celeberation. Onam is a week long festival. This boat race is a part of it. I went there two days after Onam.
ummmmmmmmmmmmas and hugs