Indian village where Kamala Harris’s grandfather born holds prayer ceremony for her

The Indian village where the maternal grandfather of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris was born held a prayer ceremony Tuesday in support of an election win for Harris and presidential nominee Joe Biden. 

According to The New York Times, dozens of people gathered in a Hindu temple in Thulasendrapuram as men wearing white dhotis, a sarong-like wrap, and women in bright saris draped Hindu idols with flowers and chanted hymns.

“She is the daughter of the village’s soil,” Lalitha, a housewife, said of Harris. “The position she has attained is unbelievable.”

Several members of the village told the Times that they hoped a Biden-Harris win could help bring attention and support to the village, with one saying the temple expects to get more donations should Harris win, while another hoped the government would build a college.

“It’s quite obvious that the village people are hoping that once she wins this election she will do us some favors,” R. R. Kalidas Vandayar, an elder, told the Times. “We are hoping the prayers work.”

More than a hundred years ago, Harris’s grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, was born in the village just about an eight-hour drive from the southern city of Chennai. 

Harris has frequently referenced the impact Gopalan had on her, especially in her desire to enter a career of public service. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gopalan joined the Indian government in the 1930s and advocated for the end of British colonial rule in the country. 

Gopalan was eventually dispatched to Zambia in the late 1960s to help the country manage an influx of refugees from Rhodesia — the former name of Zimbabwe — which had just declared independence from Britain. 

Gopalan’s daughter and Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, eventually immigrated to the United States in the 1950s, although Harris maintained a relationship with her grandfather until his death in 1998. 

“My grandfather was really one of my favorite people in my world,” Harris said in a 2019 interview. 

Harris has drawn on her Indian American heritage during her campaign. She is the first Indian American and first Black woman to be the vice presidential nominee of a major political party.

A survey published last month by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the University of Pennsylvania found that 72 percent of Indian Americans polled planned to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket. 

Tags 2020 elections 2020 polling Biden-Harris campaign India Indian Americans Joe Biden New York Times The Los Angeles Times

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