The victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US presidential elections has been celebrated in a very special way far away from the United States, in a small town in southern India where the family of the newly elected vice president lives.
Thulasendrapuram is a village about 350 kilometers south of Chenai, where Kamala Harrils’ grandfather, the diplomat PV Gopalan, was born. This Sunday, after the news was known, people took to the streets with portraits of Harris and have distributed sweets and launched celebratory supplies.
“Congratulations Kamala Harris, pride of our village,” read one of the prepared rangoli decorations. In other houses they have celebrated Harris’s victory with holi powders.
“A daughter of our village has been elected to one of the most important positions in the world. We hope that she will visit our village,” said the administrator of the village temple, SV Ramanan, in dialogue with the DPA news agency. “We have prayed for the last three days in our 300-year-old temple that he would win,” he added.
An aunt of Harris, Dr. Sarala Gopalan, has explained in statements to Indian television NDTV that a few years ago she made an offering of one hundred coconuts at a temple in Besant Nagar in gratitude for Harris’s election as senator. Now she has signaled that she will travel to the family’s ancestral village to thank the family god.
Harris is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother and will become the first vice president of the United States with Indian and African ancestry on January 20.
However, Harris has never visited Thulasendrapuram. Her grandfather left the village almost 90 years ago and her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, immigrated to California from India to study in 1958.
Harris has indeed visited her grandparents in the Tamil Nadu state capital, Chennai, and her mother has always remembered the great influence Gopalan had on her. “I am grateful for the most important woman to be here today, my mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris,” Harris said in her first speech after being vice president-elect.
“When he came here from India at the age of 19, he couldn’t imagine this moment, but he believed very deeply in America, where such a moment is possible,” he added.