Indian village cheers for Kamala Harris before swearing-in as US vice president

Indian village cheers for Kamala Harris before swearing-in as US vice president

India Kamala Harris
A worker prepares a traditional snack next to a banner featuring Kamala Harris outside a local eatery in Thulasendrapuram, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Jan 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Aijaz Rahi)

THULASENDRAPURAM, India: A tiny, lush-green Indian village surrounded by rice paddy fields was beaming with joy on Wednesday (Jan 20) hours before its descendant, Kamala Harris, takes her oath of office and becomes the United States vice president.

Harris is set to make history as the first woman, first woman of colour and first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.

In her maternal grandfather's hometown of Thulasendrapuram, about 350km from the southern coastal city of Chennai, people were jubilant and gearing up for celebrations.

"We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice president of America," said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, 52, a teacher.

India Kamala Harris
Indian villagers gather outside a local eatery next to a banner featuring Kamala Harris in Thulasendrapuram, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Jan 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Aijaz Rahi)

Harris' grandfather moved to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, decades ago. Harris' late mother was also born in India, before moving to the US to study at the University of California.

She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for "lotus flower".

Ahead of the US elections in November, villagers in Thulasendrapuram had pulled together a ceremony at the main Hindu temple to wish Harris good luck. After her win, they set off firecrackers and distributed sweets and flowers as a religious offering.

READ: Indians in Kamala Harris' ancestral home wake up to her victory

Posters of Harris from the November celebrations still adorn walls in the village and many hope she ascends to the presidency in 2024. President-elect Joe Biden has skirted questions about whether he will seek re-election or retire.

India Kamala Harris
The name of Kamala Harris is made from murukku at a village house in Thulasendrapuram, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, Jan 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Aijaz Rahi)

"For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president," said G Manikandan, 40, who has followed her politically and whose shop proudly displays a wall calendar with pictures of Biden and Harris.

Ahead of the inauguration, special prayers for her success are expected to be held at the local temple during which the idol of Hindu deity Ayyanar, a form of Lord Shiva, will be washed with milk and decked with flowers by the priest.

On Tuesday, an organisation that promotes vegetarianism sent food packets for the village children as gifts to celebrate Harris' success.

Source: AP/dv

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