Mahashay’ Dharampal Gulati, the owner of masala brand MDH Spices passed away in the wee hours of Thursday.  He was 97.

According to reports, Gulati was undergoing treatment at a hospital in New Delhi where he suffered a cardiac arrest today.

Gulati became synonymous with the brand owning to the popularity of MDH advertisements in which he was regularly featured. The MDH owner, who is fondly called ‘dadaji’ and ‘Mahashayji’, was born in 1923 in Sialkot, Pakistan.

One of the most visible faces and easily recognisable figures in India, no one can forget Gulati’s image with his iconic white moustache and red turban, which pops up in one’s mind as soon as one hears the catchy jingle “asli masale sach sach”.

Gulati joined his father’s spice business in Sialkot and, after partition, moved to India where he opened a shop in Karol Bagh in Delhi. From there, he built the entire group to one of India’s leading spices manufacturer expanding to 15 factories. MDH has offices in Dubai and London.

He started MDH spices, which is now almost a staple in nearly every Indian household, as a family business from a small wooden shop in Delhi’s Karol Bagh under the name, Mahashian Di Hatti (MDH) of Sialkot “Deggi Mirch Wale”.

Gulati was conferred the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award, in 2019 for his contributions in the field of food processing trade and industry.

On Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted a photo of him conferring the honour to Gulati and wrote, “Saddened by the demise of Mahashiyan Di Hatti (MDH) owner Shri Dharampal Gulati ji. He was a well-known industrialist. His social service is also commendable. My condolences to his family and well-wishers.”

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia were among several other eminent leaders who expressed their grief over his demise.