Coimbatore: Former President APJ Abdul Kalam,
who turned 80 on Saturday, celebrated a `unique and green birthday`
in the company of hundreds of children and farmers at
Nandangarai, 25 KM from the city.
"This is the first time I am celebrating my birthday in a
grand, but unique manner, that too in the company of
children," an emotional Kalam said, after cutting a cake.
Dressed in a gray full-sleeved safari suit, Kalam, who was
received by the trustees of Siruthuli, a NGO, which organised
a function of planting tree saplings, took a seat on a swing,
taking two girl children by his side, with more than 2,500
While swinging, two students, standing on either side,
fanned him with `Venchamaram` (cluster of strands made of
Lion`s hair) and peacock feathers, as students and others
gathered wished him happy birthday.
Later, Kalam planted a naval (jambul) sapling, said to be
the seedling of a tree, planted by Mahatma Gandhi during his
visit to the city, some decades ago.
He also accepted a `green` gift on his birthday-- a Pasumai
Ponnadai,` a green shawl, with 80 leaves woven on it, offered
by the `Green Army` of Siruthuli.
The event has been named `Paadai Engum Pasumai` (green
everywhere) indicating the green path envisioned by Kalam to
make India a super power by 2020, through participation of the
student fraternity, during which 10,000 saplings would be
planted in Coimbatore city, the organisers said.
Siruthuli, under its `Pasumpulari` project, plans a year
long afforestation drive to plant one lakh saplings in the
city to commemorate the 2011 UN declaration as the
International Year of Forests.More than 60,000 saplings have
been planted in various locations and rest would be planted
soon after the onset of North East Monsoon, they said.