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People in a tiny Indian village surrounded by rice paddies, they flocked to a Hindu temple, broke cookies and said prayers Wednesday hours before their descendant, Kamala Harris, take his oath of office to become Vice President of the United States.

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

A girl reacts when villagers hold up posters with US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris after participating in special prayers before her investiture, in front of a Hindu temple in Thulasendrapuram. (AP)
Villagers prepare to set off firecrackers after offering special prayers at a Hindu temple for US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris before her inauguration in Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris’s maternal grandfather. (AP)

“We are very proud that an Indian is being elected vice president of the United States,” said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, a local teacher.

The ceremony at Thulasendrapuram, where Harris’s maternal grandfather was born some 350 kilometers 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 rumbled with a blast of firecrackers as people held up Harris posters and clapped.

Harris she is set to make history as the first woman, the first black woman, and the first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.
In Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris’s maternal grandfather, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India, a banner is displayed with the US Vice President-elect. (AP)
A man carries clippings of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and walks down a street in Chennai, near Thulasendrapuram, India. (AP)

What makes their achievement special in this town is their Indian heritage.

Harris’s grandfather was born in Thulasendrapuram more than 100 years ago.

Many decades later, he moved to Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu.

Harris’s late mother was also born in India, before moving to the US study at the University of California.

She married a man from Jamaica and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for “lotus flower.”

An Indian villager unloads rice from a truck alongside a banner displaying photos of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Thulasendrapuram. (AP)

In various speeches, Harris has often spoken about his roots and how he was guided by the values ​​of his Indian-born grandfather and mother.

So when Joe Biden and Harris triumphed in the US elections last November, Thulasendrapuram became the center of attention in India.

Indian politicians flocked to the village, and young children with banners bearing photos of Harris ran down the dusty roads.

A child holds a tray of chocolates while others hold portraits of the Vice President-elect of the United States, Kamala Harris, after participating in special prayers before her inauguration, at a Hindu temple in Thulasendrapuram. (AP)

Then and now, the villagers lit firecrackers and distributed sweets and flowers as a religious offering.

Harris’ posters and banners from November still adorn the village walls and many expect him to ascend to the presidency in 2024.

Biden has sidestepped questions about whether he will seek re-election or retire.

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

The name of the vice president-elect of the United States, Kamala Harris, is made with ingredients from a tasty local Murukku in a town house in Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris’s maternal grandfather. (AP)

On Tuesday, an organization that promotes vegetarianism sent food packages to the town’s children as gifts to celebrate Harris’ success.

In the capital, New Delhi, there has been so much enthusiasm – and some concern – for Harris’ rise to the vice presidency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invested in President Donald Trump, who visited India in February last year.

In pictures: historic day that Biden assumed the presidency

Modi’s many Hindu nationalist supporters were also upset with Harris when he raised concerns about Kashmir, the disputed Muslim-majority region whose statehood the Indian government revoked last year.


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