This Article is From Aug 20, 2020

Kamala Harris's Shout-Out To Her "Chithis" Sets Desi Twitter Abuzz

"Family is my uncles, my aunts and my chithis," said Kamala Harris.

Kamala Harris's Shout-Out To Her 'Chithis' Sets Desi Twitter Abuzz

Senator Kamala Harris has earlier spoken about her Indian roots.

During her vice-presidential acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Senator Kamala Harris, 55, touched upon the importance of families. A special shout-out to her "chithis" - a Tamil word which means "aunts" - is now winning her a lot of love from desi Twitter. 

Last week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden picked Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate - a decision that made her the first Black woman and the first Asian-American woman to be selected as the vice presidential nominee of a major party in the US. Ms Harris, whose mother was from India and father from Jamaica, made history on Wednesday when she accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president. 

In her vice-presidential acceptance speech, Ms Harris, 55, gave a special mention to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who was born in Chennai and immigrated to the US for a doctoral programme at the age of 19.

"She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage," she said.

Ms Harris then went on to talk about her family, which includes her husband Doug, their "beautiful children, Cole and Ella", nieces, godchildren, uncles, aunts and her chithis. "Family is my uncles, my aunts and my chithis," said Kamala Harris.

The use of the Tamil word came as a special surprise to Indian-Americans and set desi Twitter abuzz, even as Google searches for "chithi" spiked. 

Her niece, Meena Harris, was among those who joined the tweet-storm.

Chef and TV host Padma Lakshmi, who was born in Chennai and had earlier hailed Ms Harris as a "formidable choice", tweeted about her use of chithi in the speech.

Take a look at some of the other reactions:

According to reports, Ms Harris had once asked her chithi or aunt in India to break coconuts for good luck at a Hindu temple when she was in the fray for California attorney general election in 2010. 

The New York Times, in an article titled "How Kamala Harris's Family in India Helped Shape Her Values", said when Ms Harris 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.

Kamala Harris has spoken about her Indian roots and remembered her walks with her grandfather earlier as well. On Saturday, she took a trip down memory lane, recalling her mother's attempts to "instill a love of good idli" in her and sister Maya and "long walks" with her grandfather in Chennai.

Her sister Maya Harris had marked her vice presidential nomination by sharing  an emotional video introducing the woman "who made it all possible" - their mother. "You can't know who Kamala Harris is without knowing who our mother was. Missing her terribly, but know she and the ancestors are smiling today. #BidenHarris2020," Maya Harris tweeted last week, sharing the clip which shows one of Kamala Harris' speeches showcasing her mother's heritage as a strong woman from Chennai who migrated to America to study science.

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