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Sonia Gandhi enjoys drama at snake boat

Last updated on: August 08, 2009 
The chundan vallom (snake boat) at the Nehru Cup 2009

United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said on Saturday that the secular traditions of Kerala, as reflected in events like Nehru Trophy boat race, was the best example for the rest of the country to follow.
Inaugurating the 57th edition of the prestigious Nehru Memorial boat race at the Punnamada backwaters in Allapuzha, Gandhi said the boat race was a unique water sporting event in which it united all communities of the state.

Text: PTI

"The country has to preserve this rich tradition and culture"

Last updated on: August 08, 2009 
Rowers in a snake boat at the Nehru trophy boat race
"The country has to preserve this rich tradition and culture. Nehru boat race is a link between the past and present generations," she said.
Hailing the state's traditional festival events, Gandhi said the boat race was one of the best ways to maintain the tradition, which should be carried forward to the next generation.

"Every section of society contributes to the race"

Last updated on: August 08, 2009 
A special women's rowing team
An equally inspiring fact about the race was that every section of society participated in the preparations for the event including churches, mosques and temples, she said.
Gandhi fondly recalled the visit of Jawaharlal Nehru to Alappuzha in 1952 to witness the boat race along with Indira Gandhi and her two sons Rajiv and Sanjay. "I have heard from Indira Gandhi that both the children were excited over the event," she said.

"The boat race means a lot to the Nehru family"

Last updated on: August 08, 2009 
People watch the Nehru trophy race from their boat
Turning nostalgic, she also recalled memories of her visit to Alappuzha in 1985 with Rajiv Gandhi. "This boat race means
so much to the Nehru family," she said.  Sonia Gandhi sat through the entire boat race which went on for more than three hours and was seen enjoying every moment of it.

A total of 58 boats belonging to different categories, including the famous 16 snake boats (Chundan Vallam) and four
canoes rowed by women, took part in the annual event, a major tourist attraction.

Vyalar Ravi and Shashi Tharoor were also present on the occasion

Last updated on: August 08, 2009 
The race in progress
Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, Kumari Shelja, Shashi Tharoor and Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, S R Bannurmath were also present on the occasion.
Union Tourism Minister Kumari Shelja announced a financial assistance of Rs 10 lakh for the conduct of the boat race. The state tourism department had already allotted Rs 12 lakh for the race.