Owner of Komala Vilas, one of Singapore's oldest Indian restaurants, dies

SINGAPORE (TAMIL MURASU)- The owner of one of Singapore’s oldest Indian restaurants died on Wednesday afternoon (Dec 23) at the age of 68.

Mr Rajoo Gunasekaran, owner of Komala Vilas Vegetarian Restaurant in Little India, leaves behind a son and three daughters.

He had felt some uneasiness while at home on Wednesday morning and was conveyed to the hospital by ambulance, where he died.

Komala Vilas was established in 1947 by Mr Gunasekaran’s late father, Mr Murugiah Rajoo.

Born in India on September 2, 1952, Mr Gunasekaran took over his father’s business and continued to run it as a family-run business. In recent years, his son Rajakumar Gunasekaran has taken over the baton.

Mr Gunasekaran served as the chairman of the Indian Restaurants Association (Singapore) from 2000 to 2004. The owner of Gayatri Restaurant, Mr Shanmugam Ganesan, 58, said: “He is a very friendly and sociable person, who is always very relaxed and calm.”

Mr Shanmugam, who took over the chairmanship of the association from Mr Gunasekaran in 2004, has known him for 34 years and recalled fond memories of their trip together to Europe several years ago.

The late Mr Gunasekaran was known for his philanthropy. He had been an ardent supporter of community events related to Little India, the Indian community, as well as Tamil language and culture.

Business figure Rajakumar Chandra, who recently stepped down as the chairman of Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (LISHA), said: “Mr Gunasekaran was very respected among all businessmen in Little India. Never has he said no to any requests for donations or support, either by cash or in-kind.”

“Komala Vilas is a place that every Singaporean identifies and is a prominent focal point for meet ups. As they embrace change and innovate, they continue to serve authentic Indian vegetarian food,” added Mr Rajakumar.

“Mr Gunasekaran’s hard work and determination is a key ingredient for its success,” he said.

The restaurant at 76-78 Serangoon Road came under the spotlight when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi there for supper in 2015. Mr Modi was in Singapore for a two-day visit to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Mr C Sankaranathan, 48, the current chairman of LISHA, said Mr Gunasekaran’s demise is a great loss to the Indian community and for LISHA. “We are all deeply saddened and shocked,” he said.

“Known for his auspicious presence, Mr Gunasekaran was the person whom my father invited to officiate the opening of The Banana Leaf Apolo restaurant at Race Course Road and the Appollo Sellappas Department store at Dunlop Street,” said Mr Shankaranathan, who is the owner of both companies.

Mr Gunasekaran’s body was cremated at Mandai crematorium on Thursday (Dec 24).

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