The backwaters and rivers of Kerala were the scene of vallam kali (Boat Play) since ancient times. They attain festive proportions during Onam season, the harvest festival of Kerala. Both men and women participate in the vallam kali. There are different types of boats that participate in races - chundan vallam (snake boat), iruttu kuthi, churulan vallam, cheru vallam etc.
Vanchipaattu is a kind of poetry, which is sung during vallam kali. These songs have a pulsating rhythm, which resembles the crest and trough of the waves in the water. The rhythmic rowing of the oars by the rovers in the boats matches the rhythmic singing of vanchipaattu (song of the boat).
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