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Thursday, September 30, 2021


(Above: Vinodrai Harie)

The family of the late Vinoo Harie have asked artSMart to pass this tribute onto friends and followers.


Hundreds of tributes and messages of condolence continue to pour in from all over the world following the sad loss of Vinodrai Harie, a man who touched everyone who met him. The messages have one theme: the extraordinary love, kindness and generosity that was an intrinsic part of his personality and nature. His close family, his friends, his business associates, his customers, his community members all echo this theme. Vinoo, as he was affectionately known, was a man with a golden heart.

Vinoo was born and bred in Durban, brought up in Beatrice Street, the eldest brother of five siblings, namely Tara, Kishore (Rocky), Vijay (Carlos) and Suresh (Tom). He attended school at Gandhi Desai and by the late 1960’s had joined his father in his shoe business.  In 1976, he married Chandrika Haribhai, and it was not long before he started working with his father-in-law at K Haribhai & Son’s, who had pioneered the importing of grains and pulses. From this, the concept of the immensely popular Spice Emporium in Pine Street took shape, and locals and tourists flocked to the beautifully laid-out store. Spice Emporium catered to specific cultural needs, whilst attracting visitors for the excellence and range of their products. Here could be found dried goods, frozen foods, snacks, condiments, kitchen ware and, of course, an astonishingly wide range of spices.

Vinoo had a passion for good food; for food that was authentic and unusual. He travelled extensively, attending food fairs worldwide and seeking out the best products. But it was the warm welcoming atmosphere and the personal touch that built the business, with branches in Gateway and Reservoir Hills and branded spice stations in supermarkets in Johannesburg. Vinoo, and his gracious wife Chandrika, would greet their customers, encourage them to try new products, exchange community news and offer culinary advice so creating firm friendships.

Within his circle of family and friends, Vinoo was known for his love of entertaining, with a wonderful spread of well-prepared dishes, a glowing atmosphere of generosity and well-being, a word for everyone, a hug, a smile and encouragement to ‘come in and enjoy!’ At his 70th birthday celebration, held in the family home, with live music, beautiful d├ęcor and an abundance of rare and excellent food, his daughter Mira spoke of her father’s important influence in her life, saying that he always ‘put faith first’.

Vinoo followed the Radha Soami Path and it was the core to his and his family’s life. Travelling frequently to attend satsang, to spend time at the feet of his Guru, he embraced the attitude of love for all and service to the community under the guidance of his spiritual teacher. 

Brother Kishore, who gave the Eulogy at the Cremation Ceremony, said that after their dad has passed some years ago, “Vinoobhai so gracefully assumed and took the mantle as the elder in family, and he did so with such grace and ease, caring for us and nurturing us. His leaving us has created a huge void in our lives: in our Harie family, in the Kuntawala family, in the Gopal family as well as the extended families. In Vinoobhai we’ve had the privilege of being with a beautiful soul – a husband, a father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend; he will forever be in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

Close friend, Wendy Nell, who also spoke at his Cremation Ceremony, summarised his virtues in her eulogy: “Vinoo was kind, he was inclusive, he was generous, he was hard-working and huge-hearted and he loved life. Dr Jayraj Naidoo wrote ‘Nothing was too much for him. We will forever treasure the happy moments that we had with him.’ Likewise, his niece Shraddha Haribhai wrote that she would ‘cherish the memories that she has of Bapu, his hugs, his laughs, his jokes and his wisdom. He had a big, beautiful presence that is hard to replace,” she added.

Asheen Soni remembered Bapu with great affection and respect, saying that his mere presence for a moment with anyone was filled with an infectious warmth, love and an unmistakable touch that you knew only he could put on it. Close friend Dayalan Naicker said, ‘In his inimitable manner Vinoo lived his life adding tangible meaning to the words ‘legacy of love’. He was proof that the more love one gives, the more it grows. He will always be remembered for his boundless generosity and spirit of serving.’

Other friends remembered times where he had encouraged them, inspired them, supported them, helped them. Nimi Govender described him as “a gem of unequalled magnitude who shone and beamed with love and a natural enthusiasm to serve all those around him”. Longtime family friend Merilyn Harwood wrote “his loyalty, his love and compassion and his utter devotion to his family, his friends and his Guru were an inspiration.”

Vinoo has left a legacy of love. His warm, golden affection for one and all made life sweeter for those who came into contact with him. As the family’s eldest sibling, he will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences to his wife Chandrika, his children Rajesh, Punam, Mitesh and Mira and his beloved grandchildren Seth and Soha and to all of those who will miss their soul brother with a golden heart.