Indian Village Cheers For Kamala Harris


Al Jazzerra

Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, first woman of colour and first person of South Asian descent to hold the US vice presidency.

A calendar with photos of Biden and Harris hangs in a shop in Thulasendrapuram village in Tamil Nadu state [P Ravikumar/Reuters]
A calendar with photos of Biden and Harris hangs in a shop in Thulasendrapuram village in Tamil Nadu state [P Ravikumar/Reuters]

A tiny, lush Indian village surrounded by rice paddy fields is beaming with joy, its descendant, Kamala Harris, takes her oath of office and becomes the vice president of the United States.

Harris made history as the first woman, first Black American and first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.

In her maternal grandfather’s village of Thulasendrapuram, about 320km (200 miles) south of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state in southern India, people were jubilant as they set off firecrackers and distributed food.

“We are feeling very proud that an Indian was elected as the vice president of America,” said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, 52, a teacher.

Calendars featuring the faces of Biden and Harris have been distributed throughout the village by a co-operative.

Harris’ grandfather moved to Chennai decades ago. Her 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.

Harris visited Thulasendrapuram when she was five and has recalled walks with her grandfather on the beach at Chennai.

“A local politician conducted a special prayer and villagers have been distributing sweets and letting off crackers since [Wednesday] morning,” said village shopkeeper G Manikandan, 40.

The scenes were in contrast to the sombre mood in Washington – locked down due to security concerns and the threat of the novel coronavirus – where Biden and Harris are due to be sworn in later on Wednesday.

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.

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.

“For the next four years, if she supports India, she will be the president,” said Manikandan, 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, one of the forms of Hindu god Lord Shiva, will be washed with milk and decked with flowers by the priest.

“I wish her well, success and I wish after four years she [Kamala Harris] becomes the president of the US, that is my wish, sincere wish,” said Sheshadri Venkatraman, the temple administrator.

On Tuesday, an organisation that promotes vegetarianism sent food packets for the village children as gifts to celebrate Harris’ success. Separately, artist Sudarsan Pattnaik has created a sand sculpture featuring Biden and Harris.

Published by CityFella

Moved to the Big Tomata in the nineties from San Francisco. No Suburbs for me with its single colored houses and lawns and the excitement of pulling out my trash can once a week. I'm a CityFella , a part time New Yorker. I'm happiest in the Center City where people the streets and people are alive. I'm still waiting to buy a 34th floor condo somewhere downtown/Midtown with a nightclub. "Hurry I'm old" My politics are somewhere in the middle with a needle that constantly moves. I'm too liberal to be a Republican and too conservative to be a Democrat. Everything interests me . I've come to love Sacratomato, Its a nice town in cheap sensible shoes .

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