A tiny, lush-green Indian village surrounded by rice paddy fields was beaming with joy Wednesday hours before its descendant, Kamala Harris, takes her oath of office and becomes the U.S. vice-president.
Harris is set to make history as the first woman, first woman of colour and first person of South Asian descent to hold the vice presidency.
In her maternal grandfather’s hometown of Thulasendrapuram, about 350 kilometres (215 miles) from the southern coastal city of Chennai, people were jubilant and gearing up for celebrations.
“We are feeling very proud that an Indian is being elected as the vice-president of America,” said Anukampa Madhavasimhan, 52, a teacher.
Harris’ grandfather moved to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, decades ago. Harris’ late mother was also born in India, before moving to the U.S. to study at the University of California. She married a Jamaican man, and they named their daughter Kamala, a Sanskrit word for “lotus flower.”
Ahead of the U.S. 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.