The gathering at Darbar Hall in the Rashtrapati Bhavan erupted into a loud round of applause when 106-year-old environmentalist ‘Saalumarada’ Thimmakka, who is also called ‘Vriksha Mathe’ (mother of trees), was given the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday (16 March), reports The Indian Express.
Dressed in a light green sari, Thimmakka reached out with her frail arm to momentarily place it at the President’s forehead in a traditional blessing when she received the award.
Faces of the President, Prime Minister and the guests lit up in smiles at the lady’s gesture.
President Kovind took to Twitter to express how touched he had been at that moment. “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,” he wrote.
Thimmakka was reportedly suicidal when she was in her 40s due to not being able to conceive any children, but along with her husband, she took a different path forward, and began planting and taking care of trees; she is thought to have planted more than 8,500 trees over a period of 65 years.