Palliyodams

Palliyodams

Palliyodams are Aranmula's unique snake boats ("Chundan Vallam") which devotees hold in reverence, considering it as the divine vessel of the presiding deity in Sree Parthasarathy temple. These Palliyodams belong to different "karas" (rustic parts) on the banks of river Pampa. Each one will usually have 4 helmsmen, rowers and singers. It is decorated with golden lace. There will be a flag and two or three ornamental umbrellas.

Construction
Locating a suitable tree preferably Anjili, cutting it down and bringing to the location for construction is the first step. Selecting an auspicious day and time work begins. All these are according to Vedas, an ancient treatise on building of wooden boats. These boats are about 100 to 138 ft in length, with the rear portion towering to a height of about 20 ft. and a long tapering front portion. When completed it resembles a snake with its hood raised. Its hull is built of planks precisely 83 feet in length and six inches wide.

Care of a snake boat
Every year the boats are oiled mainly with fish oil, coconut shell, and carbon, mixed with eggs to keep the wood strong and the boat slippery in the water. The village carpenter carries out annual repairs and people take pride in their boat, which is named after and represents their village.

Getting onto a snake boat
Only men of the village are allowed to be in the boat.
Dress. White loin cloth (Mundu) and turban.
No shirt and footwear.
Traditionally it will be commanded by a Kaarnavan / Karanaadhan (Village leader) with First Adanayampu and under him there will be three main oarsmen who control the movement of the boat with 12 feet long main rudder-oar (Adanayampu). Sitting two in row along the length of the Boat there will be the oarsmen, They row in rhythm of the vanchipattu (boatman's song). Standing on the platform in the middle of the boat, the main singer will lead the vanchipattu. A few singers will be with the main leader while others will stand at the middle between the oarsmen.