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Bidding adieu to the ‘King of Spices’3 min read

December 5, 2020 3 min read


Bidding adieu to the ‘King of Spices’3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rewind with Owliver

On Rewind with Owliver, we take you on a journey to the past to explore and learn about the lives and times of people who have left a legacy behind. And this week, we look at a legacy so large and ‘spicy’, that every home will know who we are talking about. Meet Mahashay Dharampal Gulati, otherwise known as the ‘King of Spices’.

For anyone who grew up in the age before streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime took over, before Play Stations and PUBG, and way before social media, cable TV was the only form of visual entertainment. And, cable TV meant advertisements galore. Some of these commercial jingles from the past are still fresh in our minds, and one of them has got to be the MDH Spices ad – ask your parents or older siblings and they’ll definitely be able to hum the tune, if not remember those iconic words – Asli masale sachh sachh!

An ad campaign Gulati did with children. Photo: Mens XP

In the ad, an elderly gentleman with a turban, glasses and a long moustache would appear – the owner and founder of the brand, which is a household staple, and not just in India. Gulati, commonly known as the ‘MDH uncle’, passed away at the age of 98 on Thursday. Let’s take a look at his journey.

Humble beginnings

Gulati was born in 1919 in Pakistan, where his father ran a small shop that sold spices, called Mahasian Di Hatti, or MDH. Gulati left his studies at an early age to help his father out with the business. 

After the India-Pakistan partition in 1947, the family moved to Amritsar in Punjab, and Gulati left for New Delhi with just Rs 1,500 in his pocket. For some time, he would ferry people around the city on a cycle rickshaw and earn his living, but later,  he decided to set up his own unit of his father’s business. Back then, selling spices and masalas was relatively new, and Gulati saw that business was steadily picking up. He then rented out another space in Delhi, taking forward his father’s brand.  

Over the years, MDH went on to flourish not just in India, but across the world, with masalas being exported to countries such as the UK, Canada, UAE, Japan, and many more! The business is now worth around Rs 1,000 crore! 

Importance of giving back

Gulati receives a Padma Bhushan from President Ram Nath Kovind

Gulati had revealed that about 90% of his annual income goes to charity. He had started a charitable trust in his father’s name that runs a hospital and four schools for the underprivileged. Recently, after the outbreak of coronavirus, Gulati donated 7,500 PPE kits to healthworkers and also donated to the Delhi chief minister’s fund to fight the virus. 

Owliver’s Obscure Facts: Did you know that Gulati was awarded a Padma Bhushan in 2019 for his contributions? A Padma Bhushan is an important award. It is third-highest civilian award in India, and is awarded by the President of the country.

Sources: Economic Times, Zee News