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Biden-Harris inauguration: Special prayers, sweet distribution planned at Harris’ ancestral village

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As America anxiously gears up for the inauguration of 46th President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday, natives of Tamil Nadu’s Thulasenthirapuram-Painganaadu are also making preparations. This village in the Southern Indian state’s Tiruvarur district is the ancestral home of Kamala Harris’ maternal family. While the inauguration ceremony is scheduled after 10 pm IST, the village will commence their celebrations almost 12 hours in advance, at 10 am IST on Wednesday.

A special Puja (prayer ritual) and Archana (offerings for the deity) are to be held at the Sri Dharmasastha Temple in the village, which would be followed be celebrations, bursting of crackers and distribution of ladoos (sweets). Over 200 persons are expected to take part in the celebrations according to the village head.

Going by engravings on the temple wall, Kamala’s relatives who live in India had donated a small sum to the temple fund in 2014. The engraving bears the name Kamala Harris, with the donation sum Rs. 5000 (about 70USD) written beside it. According to the village head, they consider Harris’ family their own people and take pride in it, adding that, they had performed Pujas and erected banners in prominent parts of the village when they knew she was Biden’s running mate. 

“Besides the celebrations, we are also planning to get a mini-forest ready in the near future. This is being planned on a small patch of land adjoining the temple” J.Suthakar, the village head and the President of the local Rotary chapter told Zee Media. 

Cheering on from their respective homes in Chennai and Delhi, will be Dr. Sarala Gopalan and Dr. Gopalan Balachandran, the maternal aunt and uncle of Kamala Harris. While the family members had initially hoped to be in the US for the Inauguration, they shelved their plans owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We haven’t spoken, but she always has our wishes, surely she has her hands full given the situation in their country” Dr. Balachandran, Kamala Harris’ uncle and senior journalist told Zee Media. 

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