107-year-old Saalumarada Thimmakka from Karnataka, who is also known as 'Vriksha Mathe or mother of trees', was conferred with the Padma Shri award by President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. After receiving the award, she blessed the President Kovind as people applauded. Thimmakka did not have children so she started planting trees. She has planted more than 8,000 trees including 385 banyan trees and watered them.
When President Ram Nath Kovind handed the award to Thimmakka and asked her to face the camera, she put her palm over the President’s forehead as a gesture of blessing. This prompted rapturous applause from the audience at the hall. She then later posed for the camera. The President tweeted on his official twitter handler to recall the gesture. “At the Padma awards ceremony, it is the President’s privilege to honor 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 also said, “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. After receiving her award, Thimakka also planted a sapling at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.