The packed Darbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan reverberated to applause when superstar Rajinikanth walked up to receive the Padma Vibhushan from President Pranab Mukherjee who also conferred Padma awards on actress Priyanka Chopra and tennis player Sania Mirza.
The awards, conferred in three categories — Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, were given away to prominent personalities from different walks of life, as the assembled gathering, including relatives and friends of the awardees, kept on clapping and cheering.
Looking dapper in a beige churidar kurta teamed with a grey Nehru jacket, Rajinikanth acknowledged the big round of applause and cheering from those gathered with a big smile. His wife Latha Rajinikanth was also among the invitees.
The southern super star enjoys a massive fan following and is endearingly called ‘Thalaivar’ by his well-wishers. He has worked both in Hindi and Southern films over his three decade long journey as an actor.
Priyanka Chopra, who has garnered international acclaim with her stint in the American TV series “Quantico”, came attired in a lime green sari to receive her Padma Shri. She acknowledged the appreciation from the crowd but kept her eyes downwards while returning to her seat.
Priyanka, who looked stunning, was being followed by admirers after the function was over. In fact security persons had to escort her from the main hall to the other room.
The former Miss World has hit international headlines with her role of an FBI agent Alex Parrish in “Quantico”. The actress, who is currently riding high on the success of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Bajirao Mastani”, has even bagged a Hollywood film, “Baywatch”, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.
Sania, who took to twitter to comment: “Humbled. Honoured. And truly thankful .. #PadmaBhushan,” was also turned out smartly in a long pinkish dress for the occasion. She received her Padma Bhushan from the president. Sania is married to Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik.
Sania and her partner Swiss legend Martina Hingis took the tennis world by storm for much of last year with a 41-match winning streak which finally came to an end with a shock loss at the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open earlier this year. The Indo-Swiss pair won 10 titles together, including nine consecutive ones.
On Monday night, Sania was also honoured at the NRI of the Year Award 2016 where she was conferred with the Global Indian Icon of the year award.
The President presented five Padma Vibhushan, 11 Padma Bhushan and 36 Padma Shri awards at the function. Three of the listed Padma Shri awardees could not make it to the function.
Padma Awards, the most prestigious honours in the country, for the year of 2016 were announced in January this year and were conferred in two ceremonies.
On March 28, actors Ajay Devgn, Anupam Kher and spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar received their Padma awards along with many others.
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion on Tuesday were Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.
Modi took a round of the hall where guests were having refreshment after the function was over, greeting . He walked around with folded hands greeting them all.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah also attended the function.
The awardees include media baron Ramoji Rao, singer Udit Narayan, chairperson of Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited Indu Jain, Prof N.S. Ramanuja Tatacharya.