Indian village, birthplace of Kamala Harris’ grandfather, applauds as she becomes Vice President of the United States

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THULASENDRAPURAM, India (AP) – Residents of a small Indian village surrounded by rice paddies flocked to a Hindu temple, popped crackers and said prayers on Wednesday hours before her descendant, Kamala Harris, was sworn in to become the Vice President of the United States.

Groups of women in shiny saris and men dressed in white dhotis swarmed the temple with candy and flowers, offering special prayers for Harris’ success.

“We are very proud that an Indian has been elected Vice President of the United States,” said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, a teacher.

The ceremony at Thulasendrapuram, where Harris’ maternal grandfather was born about 215 miles from the southern coastal city of Chennai, saw the idol of the Hindu deity Ayyanar, a form of Lord Shiva, washed with milk and adorned with flowers by the priest. Soon after, the village boomed with a firecracker boom as people held up Harris posters and cheered.

Harris is poised to make history as the first woman, first black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to serve as vice president. What makes its achievement special in this village is its Indian heritage.

Villagers detonate firecrackers and hold up signs depicting US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris ahead of her inauguration in Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris’ maternal grandfather, south of Chennai, in the State of Tamil Nadu, India, Wednesday, January 20, 2021. A tiny, leafy Indian village surrounded by rice paddies was beaming with joy Wednesday hours before his descendant, Kamala Harris, was sworn in and became Vice President of the United States. United. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)PA

Harris’ grandfather was born in Thulasendrapuram over 100 years ago. Several decades later, he moved to Chennai, the state capital of Tamil Nadu. Harris’s late mother was also born in India, before moving to the United States to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for “lotus flower”.

In several speeches, Harris spoke often of her roots and how she was guided by the values ​​of her Indian-born grandfather and mother.

So when Joe Biden and Harris triumphed in the US election last November, Thulasendrapuram became the center of attention across India. Local politicians flocked to the village and young children carrying signs with pictures of Harris ran along the dusty roads.

Indian village cheers Harris

Indian artist Aejaz Saiyed puts the finishing touches on a work of art featuring US President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi, ahead of Biden’s inauguration ceremony , in Ahmedabad, India, Wednesday, January 20, 2021 The inauguration of Biden and Harris is scheduled for Wednesday. (AP Photo / Ajit Solanki)PA

Yesterday and today, the villagers set off firecrackers and distributed candies and flowers as a religious offering.

Posters and banners from Harris from November still adorn the village walls, and many are hoping she will ascend the presidency in 2024. Biden has bypassed questions about whether he would stand again or step down.

“For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president,” said G Manikandan, who has followed Harris politically and whose shop proudly displays a wall calendar with pictures of Biden and Harris.

Indian village cheers Harris

An Indian villager stands in front of a banner displaying photographs of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris’ maternal grandfather, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India, on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris is scheduled for Wednesday. (AP Photo / Aijaz Rahi)PA

On Tuesday, an organization that promotes vegetarianism sent food packages to village children as a gift to celebrate Harris’ success.

In the capital New Delhi, there has been both excitement – and some concern – over Harris’ rise to vice president.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invested in President Donald Trump, who visited India in February last year. Modi’s many Hindu nationalist supporters were also unhappy with Harris when she expressed concern over Kashmir, the disputed Muslim-majority region whose state the Indian government revoked last year.

– The Associated Press

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