Harris’s ancestral Indian village celebrates swearing in with firecrackers, prayer


As Vice President Harris took her oath of office Wednesday, residents of the Indian village where her grandfather was born celebrated by setting off firecrackers and saying prayers of well wishes for the newly sworn in leader. 

Video footage from the small village of Thulasendrapuram, India, showed a woman decorating the ground with bright colors and a message reading “Kamala Harris Congrats.”  

The Associated Press noted that members of the village watched the inauguration live, chanting “Long live Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and setting off fireworks as she took the oath.

Earlier on in the day, local residents decorated their temple with flowers and held a prayer ceremony wishing Harris success in her new role. 

Harris on Wednesday made history by becoming the first Black, South Asian and female U.S. vice president, moments before President Biden took his oath of office. 

A local Indian teacher, Anukampa Madhavasimhan, told the AP that the village is “feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice president of America.” 

Harris’s grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, was born more than a hundred years ago in the village just about an eight-hour drive from the southern city of Chennai, where Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in 1938. 

According to CBS News, Harris’s mother moved to the U.S. to study biomedical sciences, where she met her husband and Harris’s father, Donald Harris. 

Kamala Harris, who visited Thulasendrapuram when she was five years old, has frequently referenced the impact her grandfather 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. 

The residents of Thulasendrapuram previously held celebrations in November upon receiving the news of the Biden-Harris electoral win, and the AP noted that posters and banners from those celebrations still remained on walls throughout the village on Wednesday.

Tags 2020 election ancestry Biden inauguration CBS News India Joe Biden Oath of office The Associated Press The Los Angeles Times
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