New Delhi: As he gave away the Padma awards to citizens for their contribution to society, it was President Ram Nath Kovind who took something away from the ceremony on Saturday. (Also read: President Kovind Confers Padwa Awards on 47 Personalities)

At the event at Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan, folk singer Teejan Bai, Larsen and Toubro chairman Anil Kumar Naik, scientist S Nambi Narayanan, actor Manoj Bajpayee and 106-year-old environmentalist Saalumarada Thimmakka were among the awardees.

Thimmakka, who has planted thousands of trees over 65 years, earning herself the sobriquet of ‘Vriksha Mathe’ for taking care of them as her children, was conferred the Padma Shri award. But her blessings were the highpoint of the President’s evening and Kovind went on to tweet about it.

He wrote, “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.”

He followed it up with how her blessings made his day. He tweeted, “At the Padma awards ceremony, 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.”

As many as 112 ‘inspiring’ personalities were selected for this year’s Padma awards and their names were announced on the eve of Republic Day this year.
The awards were conferred in two ceremonies with 47 dignitaries receiving the honour on March 11, while 54 were honoured on Saturday.

Among sportspersons, footballer Sunil Chhetri, archer L Bombayla Devi, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, captain of Indian women’s basketball team Prashanti
Singh were conferred Padma Shri by the President.

Other notable recipients included nature photographer Anup Shah, tea seller Devarapalli Prakash Rao who provide free education to poor children, Director PGI Chandigarh Jagat Ram, tribal activist Kamala Pujari who preserves endangered seeds, farmer from Jhalawar