On Wednesday morning, it looked like all roads led to the CODISSIA Complex, the venue of the five-day World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore. The entire city seemed to be celebrating and the venue was an ocean of people.
The conference venue, a 4.4 lakh sq.ft. pandal, with a seating capacity of about 50,000, was overflowing with delegates, participants, invitees and onlookers and even as the proceedings were on, people continued to come in large numbers. Men and women, young and old, from different parts of the State came in groups, with family members and friends. “Idhu namma vizha”, one of the visitors said as he came into the venue.
Vendors had spread their wares on the footpath outside the conference complex and some were selling their goods, ranging from murukkus, puffed rice, CDs, bags and shirts, even at the complex.
“We are 50 of us who have come from Madurai, Dindigul and Palani. We came last night. We have brought murukkus to sell at the conference on all the five days and also to watch the proceedings,” said R. Jeyanthi from Madurai. She hoped to sell more during the procession on Wednesday evening.
Rajalakshmi (12) came with her father to sell peanuts and the two of them stayed at the parking space. She was unhappy that she was not able to go inside the pandal to have a glimpse of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
Another vendor at the complex, M. Durairaj from Dharmapuri, had brought puffed rice to sell at the conference.
The food counters opened at 8 a.m. “Our stall had food for about 500 people and it got over immediately,” said Gurumoorthy of RHR Hotels.
Some of the onlookers lined up on either sides of the road near the pandal with hand fans that had pictures of the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.
Large LCD and plasma screens were placed in different parts of the complex to help people watch the proceedings. As the conference started, even some of those seated at the rear end of the pandal turned to the screens to catch a glimpse of the dais.
As the inaugural came to an end, it was time to get ready for the next event for the day — the evening procession — and people started gathering on Avinashi Road for the pageantry.