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Deep Chennai roots: When Kamala thanked aunt for breaking coconuts at Adyar temple

In 2010, Dr Sarala Gopalan visited the Pillayar Ganesha temple in Adyar. There, the city-based consultant broke 108 coconuts for the Lord’s blessings and this soon bore fruit.

Deep Chennai roots: When Kamala thanked aunt for breaking coconuts at Adyar temple
Harris (L) with her sister Maya and mother Shyamala in California


A few days later, her niece Kamala Harris called and thanked her, saying that she had won the California Attorney General Democratic primary election. “Your coconuts worked, Chithi. For every coconut you broke, I got 1,000 votes,” wrote the Indian-origin senator in her book, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. The California State Senator also has a Chennai connection. The daughter of Dr Shyamala Gopalan, a cancer researcher and civil rights activist, Harris regularly visited Besant Nagar to meet her grandfather, a civil servant and member of the Indian Independence movement, and her extended family. Last year, in a video with comedian Mindy Kaling on Harris’ YouTube channel during her Presidential run, they had even cooked masala dosas together. When asked if she grew up eating a lot of south Indian food, Harris said that she did and loved it. Harris married Douglas Emhoff in 2014, and they held a Jewish ceremony and an Indian ceremony where she wore the mangalsutra. Harris also has a sister, Maya, who assisted US senator Hilary Clinton during her campaign. Deputy CM O Panneerselvam also tweeted, “It is a moment of pride for Indians as Kamala Harris, the first Indian senator, whose mother hails from Tamil Nadu has been nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate by the US Democratic party. My hearty wishes to her.”

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