As soon as it became global news that US presidential candidate Joe Biden had picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, a celebratory note emerged from a charming hamlet in southern India. It might take you a whole minute to zoom into this far corner, but it is where the maternal ancestors of the high-flying US Vice-Presidential candidate Harris lived: Thulasendhirapuram in Mannargudi taluk in Thiruvarur, in Tamil Nadu.
The village temple, Shri Dharmasastha Temple, here has received funds from the Harris family residing in India for an honorary event celebrating the deity; the contribution is borne out in a plaque put up in the temple premises, with Harris's name on it. The temple recently held a 'puja' (a special offering to God accompanied by a prayer) for Harris's forthcoming elections.
According to the temple administration in-charge, the PV Gopalan family resided in the 'Agraharam', an exclusive community populated by Brahmins, near the temple.
“The temple and the nearby Agraharams used to be called Painganadu. PV Gopalan’s family was part of the Agraharam. They had gone out of town in search of employment and education and their children are now in the United States. Kamala Harris is one of them. This a matter of great pride that someone from this village is running for Vice-President,” said temple administrator Ramanan, adding that the family continues to contribute to developmental works at the temple.
Over the last few days, several visitors have started visiting Harris's ancestral home here.
Her grandfather, PV Gopalan, whose name figures prominently in the temple plaques in Thulasendhirapuram, went on to become a civil servant with the central government and was posted in Zambia to oversee relief work, later becoming Joint Secretary.
Kamala Harris, 55, is the first black woman to be nominated to contest for the position of the US Vice-President. In her own words, Harris set much store by the wisdom she has received from her grandfather during their morning walks together near a beach in Chennai where Gopalan has lived since retirement.
(With inputs from Senthilkumar V)