Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president, making her the first black woman on a major party's White House ticket.
In her Democratic National Convention speech, she accused Trump of turning "our tragedies into political weapons." She urged Americans to vote for Joe Biden, "a president who will bring all of us together."
"Donald Trump's failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods," the former California prosecutor charged in her acceptance speech.
But there was something else in her speech which stood out - especially to her Indian-American voters.
Harris used the Tamil word, 'chithis.' The word which translates to 'aunt' sent Americans Google-ing what it meant, and for Indian-Americans and Tamilians watching from around the world, it came as a pleasant surprise - the first time someone spoke Tamil during an US Democratic speech.
Watching Kamala Harris speak with such pride about her South Indian mom, while I sit next to my Amma, and my nephew who calls me Chithi, is so special. https://t.co/hLMNKrBBte — Aarthi Gunasekaran (@aarthikaran) August 20, 2020
Millions of Americans are googling “chithi,” so next time someone @ me that Kamala Harris isn’t proud of her Indian heritage... 💪🏽 — Vipin Narang (@NarangVipin) August 20, 2020
“Family...is my chithis” - Kamala Harris Every Tamilian signs up to vote — Anand Raghuraman (@AKRaghuraman) August 20, 2020
Shoutout to all the chithis!!! 😭 — Pavithra S. Mohan (@pavsmo) August 20, 2020
When @KamalaHarris gave a shout-out to her "chittis" (ie, her mother's sisters)... ...It was-- I'm pretty sure-- the first time that #Tamil has been spoken at a US political convention. — Jonah Blank (@JonahBlank) August 20, 2020
Kamala Harris used chithi in her DNCC speech, Tamilians RISE UP!!!!!! — Minu (@MinuNagash) August 20, 2020
For non-Tamilians, it led people to looking up the word, trying to understand what it meant. After her speech, Google trends registered a huge spike in search terms for it.
Harris also posted a tweet about her mother, who hailed from Chennai in India.
"My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives. She taught us to put family first—the family you’re born into and the family you choose—but to also see a world beyond ourselves," she said.
My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives. She taught us to put family first—the family you’re born into and the family you choose—but to also see a world beyond ourselves. #DemConvention pic.twitter.com/xU61nLrUXx — Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 20, 2020
Harris is half-Tamilian on her mother's side, and has fond memories of India, especially with her grandfather.Harri's 'Chittis,' her mother's younger sister, and Harris' aunt, Dr Sarala Gopalan, told CNN-News18 that the entire family was ecstatic after they heard about her nomination.
"The entire family is so thrilled and happy after we heard the news. A friend of mine in the United States gave us the message at 4 am in the morning, and we have been up, since then," Gopalan said.
Asked about how she remembered Kamala as a child, Gopalan said that she was a very nice, kind and affectionate person, adding that she was speaking this despite the fact that Harris was her niece.
"If I send her a message right now saying Kamala I need you, the next day she will be there. She is very caring and kind to people, and that's what I like about her most," Gopalan said.
Earlier, when she was fighting the elections for California Attorney General, she called her aunt Sarala Gopalan in Chennai and asked her to break coconuts for good luck at a Hindu temple overlooking the beach at Besant Nagar where she used to walk with her grandfather.