Thulasendrapuram (Tamil Nadu) January 20: As Kamala Harris made history on Wednesday when she was sworn in as the first female, Black and South Asian American vice president of the United States, a tiny village in India celebrated her ascension in politics with firecrackers and prayers.
Harris, 56, is a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.
Her maternal grandfather was born in the village of Thulasendrapuram, about 215 miles from Chennai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu more than 100 years ago, the Associated Press reported.
Groups of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti pants — a type of sarong worn by men in India — watched Harris’ inauguration live in Thulasendrapuram, according to the AP. The villagers chanted “Long live Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath, the AP reported.
Harris’ late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, was also born in India before she moved to the U.S. to study, where she received a Ph.D in nutrition and endocrinology from the University of California at Berkeley, and met Harris’ father, Donald Harris. On numerous occasions, Harris has credited her mother with being a “force of nature and the greatest source of inspiration in my life.”
As the countdown for the inauguration ceremony began in Washington D.C., celebrations broke out in Thulasendrapuram, the ancestral village of new U.S.Vice-President Kamala Harris in Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday, The Hindu adds.
From children to octogenarians, residents descended on the streets, against a backdrop of lush green paddy fields, to celebrate the “momentous” occasion. The villagers said her assumption of office will strengthen the relationship between the two largest democracies.
A festive atmosphere prevailed, and the village was decorated with festoons. Enthusiastic villagers set off firecrackers right from dawn, and children danced to music on the streets.
Girls and women drew rangoli depicting Ms. Harris in front of their houses. Holding placards with her pictures, some villagers marched on the streets.
Special prayers were held at the Dharma Sastha temple, a “favourite temple of her ancestors”, wishing her a successful tenure. Laddus were distributed widely and calendars featuring Joe Biden and Ms. Harris became sought-after souvenirs. “I never dreamt that a person with roots in our village would go on to hold the high office of the Vice-President of the U.S. We are all very excited. It is a proud moment for each and every one of us,” said J. Sudhakar, a villager.
Her elevation to the position had made her ancestral village popular even in the United States. “We await her visit to Thulasendrapuram. When she visits India, I hope her itinerary includes our village,” Mr. Sudhakar added.
Women were particularly enthused over Ms. Harris’s success. S. Arulmozhi, a resident said,“She has emerged as a symbol of women’s empowerment and inspires us all”.
As an alumna of Howard University and member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Harris is also the first vice president to have graduated from a historically Black college and to be in a historically Black Greek letter organization.