Special prayers and celebrations at Kamala Harris’s ancestral Indian village before swearing-in ceremony

<p>Indian villagers gather outside a local eatery next to a banner featuring US vice president-elect Kamala Harris with a message wishing her best, in Thulasendrapuram, the hometown of Harris' maternal grandfather, south of Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India.&nbsp;</p>

People of Thulasendrapuram, the village of the maternal grandfather of Kamala Harris in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, are gearing up for celebrations as she is all set to assume the office of the US vice-president on Wednesday.

The village is just about 350 kilometres from state capital Chennai, an idyllic rural haven surrounded by rice paddy fields.  

Ahead of her oath-taking ceremony, special prayers are expected to be organised at the local temple for her success and on Tuesday, an organisation that promotes vegetarianism sent food packets for the village children as gifts to celebrate the success of Ms Harris, who is the first woman, the first woman of colour and the first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency. 

Anukampa Madhavasimhan, who is a 52-year-old teacher, said: “We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice president of America.”  

Ms Harris was born to an Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan, and Jamaican father, Donald Harris, in 1964.

Though her grandfather had moved to Chennai decades ago, the villagers in Thulasendrapuram had organised a ceremony, ahead of the US elections in November 2020, to wish luck to Ms Harris. Once her win was confirmed, the villagers had celebrated with firecrackers, distributed sweets and flowers as a religious offering.

Their admiration for Ms Harris is visible as her posters from the November celebrations dot the village walls still.  

Many in the village hope that Ms Harris becomes the president in 2024 even as 78-year-old Joe Biden has not clarified whether he will seek reelection or retire.

“For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president,” said G Manikandan, 40, who follows her work and whose shop displays a wall calendar with pictures of Joe Biden and Ms Harris.

Additional reporting by agencies

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