Inside Kamala Harris's Indian Ancestral Village That's Hosting An Inauguration Party For Her

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Kamala Harris

This Inauguration Day isn’t just a celebration in the US, Kamala Harris’ Indian ancestors are getting in on the action too. 

Kamala Harris will be the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice-President in the United States as she makes history for women and POC everywhere.

While she takes her oath in Washington DC, over 8,000 miles away in a remote Indian village, celebrations will be hosted in her honor. 

The village of Thulasendhirapuram in India was home to Harris’ maternal grandfather P. V. Gopalan before he moved to the city of Chennai, where Shyamala Gopalan, Harris's mother was born. In her early adulthood, Harris’s mother emigrated to the US where she met her husband, Donald Harris. 

Harris has been vocal about the important role her Indian heritage played in her upbringing so it is no wonder her ancestral village is radiating their pride as Harris enters the White House. 

Though no direct relatives of the Vice-President live in Thulasendhirapuram today, villagers are still honoring this momentous occasion. 

“We feel proud as though India has won an Olympic gold medal,” says Vinod Pulavendran, a resident of the village. “It is common for Indians to become American citizens, but how often does an Indian become the vice president of the US? She has put us on the map,” he added.

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Harris has not visited the village since she was 5 years old, according to a campaign video shared on her socials below. But she has fond memories of visiting walking on the beach with her Indian grandfather. 

Given the 11-and-a-half-hour time difference, celebrations are already underway in India. 

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The Dharmasastha Temple in Thulasendhirapuram hosted a special adoration ceremony in Harris and her grandfather’s honor in the lead up to the Inauguration and built a placard with her name inside the building. 

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Posters of Harris have decorated the village since Biden first announced she would be his running mate in the 2020 elections.

After the news reached the village that Kamala Harris and Biden had been successful in their race, local leaders hosted a celebratory festival offering free food to impoverished people living in the area. 

Harris’ aunt Dr Sarala Gopalan, the younger sister of her late mother, visited the village shortly after the November victory but villagers are hopeful that the Vice-President will also make a return to her ancestral home. 

“Her victory is a motivation for the entire village to dream of achieving something,” said Arulmozhi Sudhakar, a local village head of Thulasendhirapuram. “We hope she visits us as it is her roots.”

Harris’s story has resonated with countless Indians and Indian-Americans who see her as a symbol of hope.

Despite your opinion on her policy, record or party, Harris has broken down barriers for other minority groups with her rise to power. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a generalist with an interest in lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.