Kamala Harris’ ancestral village celebrates her win with crackers, rangoli

A village in southern India also erupted with joy as Kamala Harris became the first woman vice president-elect of the United States. Harris traces a part of her ancestral roots to India.

People began celebrating her victory by distributing sweets and bursting crackers in Thulasendrapuram, a village in the Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu where Kamala Harris’ maternal grandfather was born.

They congratulated Harris by drawing colourful rangoli in front of their homes.

“Her win also motivates the boys and girls in our village,” says Arulmozhi Sudhakar, a local village head of Thulasendhirapuram, Painganadu. “Now I’m able to show my 11-year-old son how much he can achieve even from our village.”

The Dharmasastha Temple in the village has been conducting special poojas since August when Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate. In 2014, her aunt (Dr Sarala Gopalan, who lives in Chennai) donated Rs 5,000 to the temple in the name of Kamala Harris.

Tamil Nadu politicians spotlighted Harris’ Tamil heritage as her mother Shyamala Gopalan was born in Chennai. Harris’ mother later moved to the US.

Chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami tweeted that Harris’ victory made Tamil Nadu proud. DMK leader MK Stalin congratulated Harris by tweeting that he was “especially pleased” that Americans chose “a woman with Tamil heritage as their vice-president”.

Harris has often recalled visiting the seaside neighbourhood of Besant Nagar in Chennai.

Harris’ Indian family, which includes her aunt Gopalan and her uncle G Balachandran, who lives in Delhi are making plans to attend her swearing-in ceremony in January 2021. They were also present during her swearing in as California Senator in 2017.

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