Not through sports but through hearts: How a snakeboat race became Nehru Trophy
Alappuzha: For the natives of Alappuzha where water and boats are part of their life, the boat race is not a mere sport but an emotion. The famed Nehru Trophy Boat Race is part and parcel of their life.
When union minister of state for external affairs and BJP leader V Muraleedharan dragged Jawaharlal Nehru into the controversy and asked which sports did Nehru play to have a boat race named after him, the sport lovers and historians were irked. They only have an advice for him, to learn history.
It was on December 22, 1952 the unbreakable bond between the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the boat race in Alappuzha was formed.
Nehru arrived in Alappuzha via water transport from Kottayam. Everyone in Kuttanad and Alappuzha were excited on his visit. As part of the welcome ceremony, many small and large boats rallied in the Punnamada backwater. The boat race was also held.
Nehru was accompanied by Indira Gandhi, Rajeev Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. The winner of the boat race on that day was Nadubagam Chundan. The winning captain Payyanad Chacko was presented with the trophy by PM Nehru. Violating all the security norms, an excited Nehru jumped onto the Nadubagam Chundan. Elated rowers welcomed him with shout-outs. They rowed the boat from Punnamada backwater to Alappuzha boat jetty. This was an unforgettable day in the life of Alappuzha.
Even after reaching Delhi, the thrill of the boat race was afresh in Nehru’s memory. He sent a trophy with his signature for the boat race and named it Prime Minister’s Trophy. In the next few years, this trophy was given to the winners.
However, after Nehru’s death, the Prime Minister’s Trophy was renamed as Nehru Trophy to honour him.