More than 8,600 miles from the White House, a small village in India has been fervently praying for the success of U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Thulasendrapuram, the senator’s ancestral home town, has been filled with boards and banners in honor of Harris, wishing her well in the election. The town also organized a four-hour Hindu prayer ceremony, called a pooja, at the local Sri Dharma Sastha temple. Draped in white dhotis and colorful saris, the people of the village and neighboring villages in the Tiruvarur district performed the ceremony, praying to the same deity they prayed to when Harris was announced as Joe Biden‘s running mate. They closed out the day with a feast of idli sambar, a staple South Indian dish consisting of soft rice cakes, spicy lentil stew, and coconut chutney. The villagers insisted it was a favorite dish of the senator’s.

Harris’ maternal grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, was born in Thulasendrapuram more than 100 years ago, before he and his family moved slightly north to the city of Chennai. Harris has mentioned gaining inspiration from her grandfather in speeches, citing his work as a civil servant who fought for the rights of Indians to win independence from Britain.

The senator was not as vocal about her Indian heritage as she was about her experiences as a black woman throughout the campaign, but she has frequently mentioned that her path to the nomination was guided by many of the values she learned from her Indian-born mother and extended Indian family.

The villagers hope that Harris’ victory will lead to development and improved infrastructure in Thulasendrapuram. They are expecting more donations to the temples and perhaps a new college built in the area, which is something the town has wanted for many years.


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