--> Skip to main content

Vanchipattu In Kerala – Boat Song

Vanchipattu is a boat-song connected with jalotsava (water carnivals of Kerala). The singing follows the rhythm of rowing the snake boats (narrow, long boats), when the backwaters and rivers of Kerala become delightfully pleasant and nature exults in her extreme glory during the months of August-September (Chinga Masam), Kerala holds boat races.

In a boat race, the leaders standing in the boat sing the song and the rowers sitting on two sides along the boat repeat the song according to the rhythm of rowing.

Most of the vancipattus are composed in the Dravidian meter natonnatha (up and down). Kuchelavritham Vanchipattu, composed by Ramapurathu Warrier (1703 – 1753 CE) is the most famous work of this genre. The song narrates the story of Kuchela, an ardent devotee and childhood friend of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, going to Dwaraka. The extreme poverty of Kuchela is described vividly. This accounts for the immense popularity of the work. The poem was apparently composed and recited during one of the King Marthanda Varma's boat journeys in which Warrier was also present.

Aranmula in Pathanamthitta district is regarded as the cradle of Vanchipattu.