There was something special about the day. One could sense it in the air, streets and from people.
A sense of happiness prevailed and it could be felt among the crowd gathered in front of Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital's Dhaka University area.
As soon as the gates to the month-long Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela (book fair) opened around 5pm yesterday, earnest booklovers entered the premises.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the book fair, country's largest book festival, at Bangla Academy around 3pm.
Though the archways are yet to be set up, a number of security personnel including police and Rab were seen maintaining security.
Like previous years, commercial publishing houses have set up stalls at Suhrawardy Udyan while stalls of government offices, autonomous and other social organisations are on the academy premises.
Being the first day of the fair, not all the stalls were opened or decorated completely, but that did not hamper the festivity among the youths who, clad in bright clothes, thronged the stalls.
“We hope the remaining works will be completed by today,” said Tanvir Kabir of Ananna Prokashoni.
Talking to The Daily Star, Jalal Ahmed, organising member secretary of the fair, said publishers had requested an extra day to complete the works.
As the evening set in, bookworms in groups started arriving at the biggest congregation of readers, writers, poets and publishers.
Anika Tahsin, a student of DU's geography department, was seen browsing through books at different stalls. She said yesterday being the first day, she was yet to make up her mind.
Meanwhile, many visitors were seen wearing masks to avoid dust. When asked, Jalal Ahmed said they would start spraying water from today.
Yesterday, the academy did not provide any list of new arrivals.
Today, a discussion on “Bijoy: Bhasha Andolan Theke Muktijuddho” will be held at the main stage of Bangla Academy at 4pm.
The fair will remain open from 11am to 9pm on the weekends and from 3pm to 9pm on weekdays. On February 21 (International Mother Language Day), the fair will remain open from 8am to 8:30pm.
The Ekushey book fair is getting bigger every year in terms of participating publication houses, number of new books unveiled at the fair as well as sales.
The number of publication houses and other organisations joining the fair this year is 550, according to Bangla Academy, organiser of the book fair.