Founder of Indian Delights eatery dies at 74
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Durban: Pushkar Maharaj, the founder of Indian Delights, died in hospital on Thursday.
Maharaj, who would have turned 75 yesterday, founded the vegetarian eatery in Brickfield Road, Overport, in 1979.
His son, Ravi Maharaj, said his father was diagnosed with cancer in May.
"It started in his lung and spread throughout his body. This a difficult time for us but my siblings and I are all trying to be strong, especially for my mother, Beena. They had been married for more than 50 years."
Maharaj said his father, who lived in Riverside, was a hard worker.
“My father grew up in Clare Estate. His father owned a stall in the market in Durban. When my grandfather died my father was only 14. He began working in the market to earn an income for his family. He completed his schooling by attending night classes.”
He said soon after matriculating he started selling fruit and vegetables.
“In 1979, while running the stall at the market, he partnered with his friend Mr Ramlall to open the Indian Delights store. Many people said the idea would not work because he was only selling vegetarian items like sweet meats, serve n nuts and bhajias. But despite the negative comments the business flourished.”
Maharaj said his fondest memory was of the store supplying snacks to movie goers visiting Gitanjali cinema which was above the store.
“The store became popular as customers would order sweetmeats for their weddings, engagements, Diwali and other special occasions. In the 90s, as more women started working, some of them did not have the time to make the sweetmeats on their own so they would come to us. This still happens today.”
Maharaj said his father had also run the cafeteria at the then University of Durban-Westville.
“I remember him also hosting a full day of entertainment for orphanages. It was his way of giving back to the community.”
He said his father was semi-retired.
“I have taken over the running of the store and my brother Eivesh runs our catering division. Before Covid-19 my father would often come to the store. When our customers heard of his passing they were devastated. Many of them had fond memories of him sitting in his chair at the store greeting and chatting to customers who came in.”
His cremation was held at the Clare Estate Crematorium on Thursday.