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Meet Padma Shri winner Tulasi Gowda, an inspiring 76 year old Environmentalist!

An Inspiring Story!

The 2021 Padma Awards took place recently where a lot of celebrities including Late singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, and Boxer and Member of Rajya Sabha, Mary Kom were awarded the Padma Vibhushan. Many other actors and members of the film fraternity including KS Chithra, Bombay Jayashri, Kangana Ranaut, etc, were awarded with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Shri. While these awardees are the ones who are predominantly known, there were also a few awardees who’s stories just came out after they were presented with the award. 

One such awardee was Tulasi Gowda, a 72 year old tribal woman from Karnataka who won the Padma Shri. When Tulasi’s name was called and she walked barefoot to receive the award, the audience couldn’t take their eyes off her because of the simple yet beautiful tribal attire she had adorned. She received the award from the hands of the President, for her contribution to the protection of the environment. 

 

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Tulasi Gowda is fondly called ‘Encyclopedia of the Forest’ even though she has never received formal education. Hailing from the Halakki indigenous tribe in Karnataka, she grew up in a poor and disadvantaged family. Yet, she is called the Encyclopedia because of her vast knowledge of diverse species of plants and herbs. 

She has been planting plants and saplings ever since she was 12. She was a temporary volunteer with the Forest Department where she was recognised for her dedication towards preservation of nature. She was even offered a permanent job in the department. 

Today, as a septuagenarian, she still continues to nurture and grow plants and also share her knowledge about environmental conservation to the younger generation. She has planted more than 30,000 saplings in her lifetime. A photo of the PM greeting Tulasi with folded palms went viral on social media. 

Another awardee whose story was really touching was the Manjamma Jogati, a transgender who recieved the Padma Shri. When she walked to receive the award from the President, she performed a beautiful gesture with the Pallu of her saree, which was a gesture wishing him good luck and warding away evil eyes. 

Manjamma is the first trans woman President of the Karnataka Janapada academy, the state’s top institution for folk art forms. For Manjamma Jogati, now in her early 60s, the Padma honours comes after decades of social and financial struggle. Amid poverty, social exclusion, and even rape, Manjamma Jogati mastered, among other art forms, Jogati Nritya and Janapada songs, Kannada language sonnets in praise of various female deities. She has now received the award for her contribution to this field of folk arts

Women like Tulasi, who have the dedication to do something for nature, even without a big financial background will continue to inspire us to do more. The story of Manjamma, will always motivate us to cross barriers and hardships to reach our goals!

 

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