Sunita William’s ancestral village welcomes her with fanfare

Jhulasan (Gujarat), Sept 21: Indian-origin American astronaut Sunita Williams on Friday visited her native village in Gujarat amidst much fanfare.

Williams, who arrived in Ahmedabad on Tuesday, is in India for the first time after her successful expedition aboard space shuttle Discovery.

People of Jhulasan village, William's father's ancestral village, welcomed her with true Gujarati customs putting up folk dances as large crowds gathered to get a glimpse of her.

"I think anybody out there-- all you children-- I hope you don't feel limited by anything. You have all the opportunities in the world," Williams said while interacting with children of the village.

Residents of this quaint village in Mehsana district, with a population of just about 5,000, were filled with pride at the visit of one of their progenies who has brought them fame.

"The whole village is ecstatic to see her. And, the children are so happy that they want to emulate Sunita and do something for their village and bring it fame," said Dinesh Patel, village head of Jhulasan.

School children said Williams is an inspiration for them.

"Sunita Williams came here, she is an inspiration for all Indian. She has made us proud. I, and other boys like me, want to emulate her so that we can also be famous," said Chetan Rabari, a student.

Williams, a graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and selected in the astronaut class of 1998, was appointed along with two others to serve as a backup crew for the International Space Station Expedition 10.

Williams' father, Dipak Pandya was a practicing doctor in the small town of Junagarh before migrating to the US. Williams was born in 1965 in Ohio, and is now married and lives in Massachusetts.

During her weeklong stay in India, Williams will attend an event with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and will visit her family. (With Inputs from ANI)