Water connects Australia and India as Kerala’s traditional boat race reaches Sydney

This event brought local Australians and Indian Diaspora together to enjoy this boat race as a bridge of our strong cultural connect.

Kerala’s traditional ‘snake boat race’ (Vallam Kali) took place for the very first time in Sydney on Saturday (14th October 2023). 

The ‘Traditional Kerala Boat Race’ was organised by the World Malayalee Council Sydney province with nine teams from various Malayalee associations in Australia participating. The teams were Gosford Kombans, Parakkum Chundan, Kannan Srank, Akkare Akkare Akkare, Navodaya Minnal Chundan, Elara Chundan, Shaji Pappan, MAQ Chundan, Aviyal Chundan.

Image: Team Elara Chundan (Pic WMC Sydney province)

The ancient Vallam Kali festival pays homage to local legends and serves as a celebration of the enduring cultural heritage of the region. 

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Image: Team Parakkum Chundan team that won second prize (Pic WMC Sydney province)

The snake boat race not only showcased the exceptional sporting talent of the participants but also served as a platform to preserve and promote India’s rich cultural heritage in Australia. It marks another milestone in Indian diaspora’s endeavour to stay connected to their roots and carry on the legacy of their ancestors in Australia. The event also aimed to bring the spirit and traditions of India’s Kerala state to a wider audience, fostering cross-cultural exchange and appreciation.

Image: Team Akkare Akkare Akkare (Pic WMC Sydney province)

Navodaya Minnal Chundan won the first prize of 15 gold coins and ever rolling trophy while Parakkum Chundan won the second prize of 500 gms worth of silver coins and ever rolling trophy.

Image: Team Navodaya Minnal Chundan winners (Pic WMC Sydney province)

The captain of the winning team Navodaya Minnal Chundan, Shahin Hareendran, said: 

“Team Navodaya is so excited and elated to be part of the first ever boat race conducted by WMC and becoming the winners. We had people with different fitness level, from different places of Kerala.”

Hareendran added:

“Still we were one, backing each other, pushing each other up and we are the champions. It was equally fun as well as spirit raising victory . Love you all for wonderful support. I thank the whole team for the continuous efforts they put in to make it to the champions and the splendid sportsmanship.”

Image: (Pic: WMC Sydney Province)

World Malayalee Council (WMC) Sydney Chair & WMC Global Chair for Corporate, Industry partnerships and CSR Impact, Irfan Malik said, 

“The Traditional Kerala Boat Race – ‘Vallam Kali’ took place here in the beautiful waters of Sydney Harbour on Parramatta River supported by the Consulate General of India Sydney, the local Government in NSW and Ryde City Council.” 

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Malik added:

“This event brought local Australians and Indian Diaspora together to enjoy this boat race as a bridge of our strong cultural connect with an enthralling atmosphere and support from all community leaders truly reflecting Vasudeva Kuttumbakam at its gloriest best!”

Image: Team – Parakkum Chundan that won second prize (Pic WMC Sydney province)

Gagan Kaur was among those who came to see the event.

“It was such a pleasure to attend the Kerala boat event today. The event was very well organised. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the races and dances. Very nice event to bring the community together.”

Image: Team Shaji Pappan (Pic Suresh Pokattu)

Speaking about the event, Kiran James, Chairman, World Malayalee Council Far East Asia and Australia Region, said:

“The Sydney Malayali community came together in large numbers on this glorious day to support the event and made it a huge success. This event showcased the togetherness of our community and sportsman spirits of Malayalis in Sydney.”

Dr Ambareesh Mohan, Vice President WMC Sydney Province, observed:

“With this boat race, we are proud to honor and uphold the spirit of Highness Mahabali Thamburan. Our aim is to showcase our rich culture and promote unity among us.”

Image: Long shot of boat race (Pic: WMC Sydney province)

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