A round of thunderous applause echoed around the Darbar Hall in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday when 106-year-old noted environmentalist Saalumarada Thimmakka, also known as ‘Vriksha Mathe (Mother of Trees)’, blessed President Ram Nath Kovind while receiving the Padma Shri award.
Thimmakka, who was dressed in a light green sari, gently placed her frail arm on the President’s forehead to bless him while receiving the award. The gesture brought a smile on the faces of the President, Prime Minister and all the guests present.
Recalling the moment, the President on Twitter said that he was ‘deeply touched’ when the oldest Padma awardee of the year thought it fit to bless him.
“It is the President’s privilege to honour India’s best and most deserving. But today I was deeply touched when Saalumarada Thimmakka, an environmentalist from Karnataka, and at 107 the oldest Padma awardee this year, thought it fit to bless me,” Kovind wrote on Twitter.
Saalumarada Thimmakka represents the resilience and determination and perseverance of the ordinary Indian citizen, especially of women in our country. May her example, and that of every Padma awardee, inspire our India to greater heights #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) March 16, 2019
“Thimmkka represents the resilience and determination and perseverance of the ordinary Indian citizen, especial of women in our country,” he added.
Thimmakka reportedly wanted to end her life in her 40s as she could not conceive but with the support of her husband, she found solace in planting trees. The couple worked in fields during the day, planted trees and cared for them. From 10 plants in the first year, they kept planting more saplings in the later years. Sometimes even bringing water from over 4 kilometers for their plants. Thimmakka, who was born in Hulikal village in Karnataka, has planted over 8,000 trees during a period of 65 years. Her husband passed away in 1991.
As many as 54 noted citizens were conferred the Padma award by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday. Apart from the Prime Minister, the ceremony saw the attendance of Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Harsh Vardhan, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Vijay Goel besides senior BJP leader L K Advani and several government officials.
(Inputs from PTI)