Belgaum: The second World Kannada Sammelana (convention) got off to a colourful start here Friday with a procession of caparisoned elephants, folk music and dance by hundreds of school children and youths.
The three-day event in this town, about 500 km from Bangalore, will be a feast of dance, music, cinema, plays and poetry sessions.
N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies, inaugurated the event. Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was a special guest.
Clad in a kurta and sporting the typical Belgaum headgear, Murthy spoke in Kannada and urged the young Kannadigas and the youth from other states residing in the state to work for excellence and not chase money alone.
"If you chase money, it will run away from you. Learn and love your work, be enterprising to achieve success, be entrepreneurs and create jobs. These will help eradicate poverty in the state and the country," he said.
A section of writers had opposed inviting Murthy for the inauguration. Apparently with this in mind, the Infosys founder said: "Wherever I am, I remain a Kannadiga. You too be like that."
"Wherever I am, however rich reception and treatment I get, I am really satisfied only when I come back to Bangalore and have our coffee," he told a gathering of over 50,000.
He was all praise for the qualities the Kannadigas are known. "We are by nature soft people, civilized, soft-spoken, not quarrelsome. That is why in northern part of the country, if one says engineers, they say `Mysore engineers`," Murthy said.
Noting that Bangalore has become one of the best known cities in the world and the word "Bangalored" may soon be a part of the English language, Murthy said the prosperity must spread to the villages as well.
In his address, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said Belgaum "is and will remain an integral part of Karnataka".
"All people living in Karnataka, including those who speak different languages, are all emotionally Kannadigas. We must all strive to build and strengthen this spirit of oneness," he added.
Belgaum is claimed by Maharashtra as the town borders the state and has a large number of people speaking Marathi.
The first World Kannada Sammelana was held in Mysore in 1985. It was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.