US election results: People in Kamala Harris' ancestral village in India celebrate her victory

·3-min read

People have set off firecrackers and offered prayers in Kamala Harris' ancestral village in southern India after she and Joe Biden won the US presidential election.

Locals gathered on the streets in Thulasendrapuram, Tamil Nadu, as they sang and danced, and also held placards featuring Ms Harris.

They gave out sweets and delicacies to celebrate the Democrats' triumph.

And there were prayers in a nearby temple.

Ms Harris, 56, who was born in Oakland, California to an Indian mother and Jamaican father, made history after becoming the first woman and the first person of South Asian descent to be elected vice-president.

Speaking in New Delhi, her maternal uncle, Gopalan Balachandran, 79, also welcomed her victory and said it was good for the US.

He said the family was planning to travel to America for her swearing-in ceremony next year.

He added: "Feel good not only personally, I feel it's good for United States. And it's important that the US be in a stable society for the rest of us. So for that also I'm happy."

He went on: "Last time when she was sworn in as the senator we were all there. This time when she's sworn as the vice president and (Joe) Biden as president, we will be there. All of us will go there."

Ms Harris' maternal grandfather PV Gopalan was born in Thulasendrapuram, which has a population of around 350, before moving to Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state.

"A woman hailing from this small village now holds one of highest positions in US. It's a proud moment," said R Kamaraj, a government minister in Tamil Nadu who joined in the celebrations.

"For two or three days we kept our fingers crossed while the result was delayed," said resident Kalidas Vamdayar.

"Now it's a joyful moment for us. We are enjoying it. We will celebrate with firecrackers, distributing Indian sweets to people and praying in the temple.

"We will request her to come here. She would have heard our voice and she may come."

One woman used colour powder outside her home to write: "Congratulations Kamala Harris. Pride of our village. Vanakkam (Greetings) America."

Aulmozhi Sudhakar, a village councillor, said: "Kamala Harris is the daughter of our village. From children to senior citizens, each one of us is awaiting the day she would take oath as the vice-president of the US."

Her mother was born in India and moved to the US to study at the University of California aged 19.

Ms Harris, who visited the village when she was aged five, has previously recalled trips to see her grandfather, who was among millions of people who joined India's independence movement.

She said conversations with him during these visits have left a profound impact on her in a speech in 2018.

Inside the temple where special prayers have been held during the course of the election, Ms Harris' name is sculpted into a stone that lists public donations made to the temple in 2014, along with that of her grandfather who gave money decades ago.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Ms Harris' success as ground breaking, and a matter of immense pride for all Indian-Americans.

In a tweet, he said: "I am confident that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership."