Elections are the celebration of democracy. And it was captured in many pictures on Thursday when Indians from all walks of life turned out in great numbers to exercise their duty to vote. Some were famous actors from Tamil Nadu, some famous cricketers, some famous businessmen while some were 'newlyweds' who decided democracy was the bigger occasion to celebrate than their wedding.
But no picture was as priceless as that of 107-year old Saalumarada Thimmakka casting her vote in the Bangalore Rural parliamentary constitution.
The heart-warming sight is not only because of the sincerity of the aged voter but also because she is a celebrity in her own right.
Thimakka was awarded the prestigious Padma Shri - the fourth highest civilian honour in India- by President Ram Nath Kovind on March 16, 2019, for her exemplary work as Karnataka's oldest living environmentalist.
Fondly known as 'Vriksha Mathe' or the 'Mother of trees', Thimakka has planted over 8000 trees over 80 years of her life. On discovering that she could not bear children, she started on this 'green' path - nurturing trees as her own children, in 1948. She has been featured in BBC's top 100 most influential women for her incredible project of planting 300 trees along the arid and dusty 4 km long road connecting the villages Hulikal and Kudur in Karnataka. She was given the title of 'Saalumarada' which means 'rows of trees' in Kannada.
In 2014, Thimakka founded the Thimakka foundation for the conservation, protection, restoration of the environment within India. It is also involved in research of indigenous breed of environmental agricultural trees and awards scholarships to exemplary environmental work.
Thimakka is an active campaigner for afforestation and is currently involved in local projects in her village like building a rainwater storage tank and setting up a functioning hospital.