While pageants are taken out for various reasons in countries abroad, in India there are only those rare occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day when people in the country's capital and State capitals get to witness them.

The opening day of the World Classical Tamil Conference will give an opportunity for Coimbatoreans to witness a procession of 40 tableaux termed “Iniavai Naarpathu” based on the tradition, culture, and hospitality of Tamils. They will start at VOC Park and proceed to the conference venue at CODISSIA Trade Fair Complex.

The three-hour-long procession that will traverse an eight-km stretch will include various dance forms of the State. Nearly 2,000 dancers in groups of 50 each will perform 40 dance forms in between two tableaux. People can get to see dances like Mayillatam, Karakattam, Poikaal Kuthirai aattam, etc., to name a few.

The eye-catching tableaux have been designed based on 40 themes. It will begin with the auspicious ‘Mangala Isai' and end with a tableau carrying the most modern laser beam device that can throw up colourful creations in the air.

There will be tableaux on themes like Kurinji, Mullai, Marutham, Neithel, Paalai, grameeya manam, grameeya nadanam, historical characters like Purananootru Thaai, Manuneethi Cholan, Manimekalai, Kannaki, Porkai Pandian, stories/anecdotes from literary works, the theme of the conference – “Pirappokum Ella Uyirukkum,” besides various others.

The design and execution of the pageant are being done under the supervision of art directors like Trotsky Maruthu, Thota Tharani, and Rajeevan, besides others like T. Muthuraj and J.P. Krishna.

Explaining the inception of the “Iniavai Naarpathu,” Mr. Maruthu says: “Initially 120 to 140 themes were put forth. From them, Chief Minister Karunanidhi selected 40 themes. The conception and design took one-and-a half months. The execution will also take the same time. There are nearly 1,000 people working on the project.”

Artists' delight

Each design was deliberated upon and drawings along with the colours were made of the final product. Mr. Maruthu made the drawings manually. These were then scanned and the computerised drawings were coloured digitally.

Each tableau is mounted on 40X12 ft bus chassis and will measure up to a height of 18 ft. The common materials used are fibre, Plaster of Paris, wood, metal, iron, bamboo, and plywood. Various kinds of paints are used for the colour.

Artisans set each part of the tableau in a clay mould and it is cast in fibre. Then the cast is mounted and painted. The result is an artist's delight and a viewer's joy.

Once the tableau is ready, the theme and an explanatory note on the theme will also be painted on its side.

Most of the themes and their explanatory notes were provided by the students and faculty of the Tamil Department of Bharathiar University.

The pageant will make its stately journey on June 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. For Tamil lovers who are unable to be there, there is a booklet being made ready. Also, the 40 tableaux will be on display for a week after the conference.

Mammoth set

If this is not enough to bring out the best in an artist, the mammoth sets erected at the conference venue have a different story to tell. The entrance set, the backdrop of the main pandal which will stage cultural programmes and the exhibition hall are other works of art. They will be a treat not only for Tamil lovers, but also for connoisseurs.

Temple architecture is beautifully interspersed with modern arches and domes in the fully air conditioned fabricated exhibition hall that will house nearly 700 exhibits in its 14-odd halls.

The conference promises to offer a feast not only to the intellect but also to the eyes. Appreciation of the art, colour, and beauty one will see is not only a tribute to the Tamil language, but an acknowledgement to the superb talent of the artisans who worked day and night to come up with such a repertoire.