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'Euphoria': Residents Of Harris' Ancestral Village In India Celebrate Her Win

Firecrackers erupted Sunday in a tiny village surrounded by lush green rice paddies in southern India, where Kamala Harris' maternal grandfather was born. Residents wrote in colorful rangoli powder on a dirt lane in front of their homes: "Congratulations Kamala Harris. Pride of our village."

Harris will be the first Asian American elected vice president in the United States, in addition to becoming the first Black vice president and the first female vice president. Harris was born in California. Her late mother was born in India, and her father is from Jamaica.

While India's prime minister tweeted his "heartiest congratulations" to Harris after midnight local time, most Indians, because of the time difference, got the news of a Biden-Harris victory when they woke up Sunday.

"We feel a sense of euphoria! Very happy, very excited, very proud," says S.V. Ramanan, caretaker of the Hindu temple in Harris' ancestral village of Thulasendrapuram, in India's southeastern Tamil Nadu state.

"I hope this scene reaches Kamala. She should know we're here celebrating her," Ramanan told NPR by phone after offering prayers of thanks in the temple. Last week, villagers also held a prayer ceremony on Election Day, for a Biden-Harris victory.

Home to just a few hundred people, mostly subsistence farmers, the village of Thulasendrapuram has suddenly embraced Harris as their native daughter, even though her ancestors moved away decades ago. On Sunday, residents handed out sweets, set off firecrackers and waved posters of Harris, the first person of Indian descent to be elected U.S. vice president.

Ramanan said he hopes Harris might visit the village after her inauguration. If she does, he'll kindly request better broadband internet, and some road maintenance, he said.

"Other than that, we live a contented life," Ramanan said. "Of course we don't know her plans. Only time will tell."

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Lauren Frayer
Lauren Frayer covers India for NPR News. In June 2018, she opened a new NPR bureau in India's biggest city, its financial center, and the heart of Bollywood—Mumbai.
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