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105-Yr-Old Padma Shri Awardee Pappammal Shares Secret to Long Life

Even decades of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal who still wakes up at 3 am every day.

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(This story was first published on 2 February, 2021. It has been republished from The Quint's archives to mark International Women's Day.)

Pappammal’s house is loud with great-grandchildren running around, people sharing sweets and villagers coming home to convey congratulations to their paati. 105-year-old Pappammal Rangammal from Thekkampatti in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu is among the 10 personalities who were bestowed with the Padma Shri award, the fourth highest civilian award in India, on the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day.

“I don’t know anything but agriculture. I have never had formal education but I’ve still come so ahead in life. Seeing my work and dedication, they have given this award.”
Pappammal Rangammal to The Quint
Even decades of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal who still wakes up at 3 am every day.
105-year-old Pappammal Rangammal from Thekkampatti in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu.
(Photo: The Quint)

She has been organically cultivating millets, pulses, and vegetables across her 2.5-acre field.

In addition to being one of the oldest active farmers in the country, she has been actively participating in various agriculture-related events all these years.

Early to Rise, Hard at Work

Decades of tending to the fields has not tired her out and she still wakes up at 3 am every day.

She begins her day by taking a walk outside her house. She then makes a healthy meal with ragi and rice with onions and chillies on the side.

“I then carry this in a mud pot and go to the fields to work. I used to work before the dawn breaks and till the sun sets,” she said.

She commented on how the current generation is unhealthy because of the odd hours of work, going to bed late, eating junk and not having positive thoughts.

However, in the past year, she has kept to her home due to wheezing issues.

Even decades of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal who still wakes up at 3 am every day.
Even a century of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal.
(Photo: The Quint)
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‘Did Everything on My Own’

Pappammal lost her parents at a young age and was brought up by her grandmother.

Papammal lost her husband a decade ago and has three daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

She inherited a provision shop from her grandmother and saved money by selling snacks and beverages. She then bought 10 acres of land and cultivated pulses and corn. Over the many years, she sold a major portion of her land and retained 2.5 acres.

She has been working tirelessly in the fields and taking care of herself and her sisters’ children all these years.

Even decades of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal who still wakes up at 3 am every day.
All the people in the village gathered at Pappammal’s house upon hearing the news.
(Photo: The Quint)
“I did everything on my own, with my own will. And today look at me, I have great grandchildren running around me. My life is very good. In my life, I am the king and the minister.”
Pappammal

She had been associated with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

She has served as the panchayat councillor in 1959 and is also a member of the DMK party.

DMK President MK Stalin took to Twitter to congratulate Pappammal and said that it was heart-warming to see Tamil icons recognised for their contributions.

Even decades of tending to the fields has not tired out Pappammal who still wakes up at 3 am every day.
Pappammal served as the panchayat councillor in 1959 and is also a member of the DMK party.
(Photo: Twitter/ @MKStalin)
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Secret to a Long Happy Life?

Pappammal prides in the fact that she has never fallen sick. Her secret to a long life?

“I eat ragi and millets and have never taken any medicines. I have never fallen sick and am always healthy.”
Pappammal

Pappammal also has beautiful white thick long tresses and she attributes this to her heathy habits.

“Since 1970, I have been eating food off banana leaves only. This is very healthy and even helps your hair grow longer and stronger,” she said.

Pappammal hopes that this award serves as an inspiration for youngsters to consider farming as a lucrative profession.

“Agriculture is a back-breaking job. It is very difficult but this is the life of the country. It requires you to put in a lot of work, and not just assign work to someone else. I hope that looking at how they’ve given such a prestigious award to a person from this background, many will be encouraged to take up farming,” she said.

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