Jhulasan (Gujarat), Sept 19: American Indian astronaut Sunita Williams"s ancestral home in Jhulasan village in North Gujarat"s Mehsana District is looking forward to welcoming her later this week. Williams is expected to arrive on Thursday, months after completing her successful expedition aboard the space shuttle “Discovery".
This quaint village, with a population of just about 5,000, is excited about the fact that one of its progeny has brought them fame.
Williams will be accorded a grand reception by the village council.
"The whole village is happy and preparing to welcome sister Sunita. We will present her with gifts. She will take a round of the village and will also visit the
temple," said Dinesh Patel, the head of the village council.
Williams' father Dipak Pandya, who is here, has visited a temple and prayed to the deity.
"We know that these people are around who have prayed for her, but equally so people in America and all over the world have prayed for her. But here it was most important. It was a Vedic place where the prayers were done and were heard and she safely came back home," said Pandya.
Williams is visiting Ahmedabad after almost a decade.
Her last visit took place in 1998, when she accompanied an urn believed to contain the ashes of India-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
During her five-day visit to India, she will also go to Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram and an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facility.
Williams, 37, 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 the backup crew for the International Space Station Expedition 10.
Born on September 19, 1965 in Ohio, U.S., Sunita married Michael J.Williams, a NASA co-worker. She is currently serving as lieutenant commander in the United States Navy.