Haridevi Malani

Haridevi Malani

1923 - 2020

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Obituary of Haridevi Malani

June 18, 1923 - June 12, 2020

Haridevi Malani.  Age 96 of Grosse Ile.

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Mrs. Haridevi Malani, age 96, who died peacefully on June 12, 2020 surrounded by her family. She is survived by her son and daughter in law, Narayandas and Prabha Malani of Grosse Ile, Michigan; grandchildren Preeti Malani (Mark Zacharek) and Anurag (Angela) Malani of Ann Arbor and Vinod (Meena) Maliwal of Pune, India. She is also survived by seven great grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren as well as her brother, Chandulal Kalantri of Telgaon, India. In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her daughter, Parvati Maliwal.

Known as “Bai” “Ma” “Kakiji” and “Dadi”, she was a mother and grandmother figure to dozens of individuals throughout the United States and India. She was especially close to her daughter-in-law’s siblings and their families including her beloved “Nalu Bai”, Nalini Maheshwari, who was by her side during her final days, the late Sharan Maheshwari; Avinash and Sarla Mundade, and Alka and Navneet Maheshwari. All of them along with her nephew Vivek (Lakshmi) Mundada treated Bai as their own mother. She served as the community grandmother to a close-knit group of friends from Grosse Ile, providing blessings at numerous birthdays, weddings, graduations, and baby showers. 

Bai was born to Jagannath and Geetadevi Kalantri on June 18, 1923 in the small Indian village of Telgaon, Maharashtra, where many of her extended family members still reside. She was the oldest child among five siblings and three cousins who were part of a large, extended family. She was married in 1938 to Tulsiram Malani, who died in 1963. 

Bai was raised in a very traditional culture during a time when girls had little access to education. Although her formal schooling ended at 6th grade, she found ways to secretly continue her studies, even riding the public bus across Secunderabad to take examinations, an act of quiet defiance. Through these efforts, she earned the equivalent of an undergraduate degree, a truly remarkable feat for any woman of her background. Although society denied her the opportunity to realize her own intellectual talents, Bai valued education and sacrificed everything to ensure her son had the best education possible. With her blessings and encouragement, he travelled to the U.S. in 1967 to further his engineering studies in upstate New York. She was especially proud of the professional accomplishments of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Despite her own traditional ways, Bai was a true visionary and never stopped learning. Just a few weeks ago, she asked her granddaughter Preeti about coronavirus and when the pandemic might end.   

Bai first visited the U.S. in 1972 during Anu’s birth, moving here permanently in 1980. She was always a wonderful companion to her grandchildren. One Halloween, Anu took her to the Grosse Ile Haunted House. She rode the Gemini roller coaster at Cedar Point losing her glasses in the process. She taught herself how to read and write basic English, always understanding much more than she let on. For more than 25 years, Bai’s favorite television show was “Days of Our Lives”. Everyone knew that she needed to be home at 1PM so she didn’t miss an episode. In later years, satellite television brought Hindi language programming that she also enjoyed. 

Bai was a kind and deeply devoted woman who diligently read and studied the Hindu scriptures. Many people would visit to discuss the meaning of the Ramayana and Bhagwat Gita because of her knowledge of these texts. During her time in India, she travelled extensively, completing pilgrimages to all the key religious sites. Her late sister-in-law was one of her favorite travel companions. 

Bai loved to cook and was well known for many wonderful dishes including her special tomato chutney and dhai vada. A skilled seamstress, Bai outfitted generations of children with her hand made creations including ornate costumes for local Diwali programs. She enjoyed tending to the backyard garden where she would battle the local rabbits and deer who loved to eat the tender fenugreek (“methi”) plants. 

Nicknamed “the General” by her grandchildren Anu and Preeti, nothing got past Bai. She had a keen awareness of every detail and always let others know her opinion. This gentle toughness is what sustained her during difficult times as a young widow with few financial resources. One of the numerous expressions Bai used was “Sab ka sunna, dil ka karna” meaning, "Listen to everyone but do what is in your heart".  

Another favorite expression was “Jab tak haath pair chalate hain, tab tak sab theek hai” which roughly translates as “As long as my hands and feet work, everything is good”. Bai suffered a stroke on May 30th and after a brief hospitalization, returned home with round the clock care from her family. Although her body had grown weak, her spirit and fierce independence remained strong until the end. 

Bai was blessed with a long, healthy and remarkable life. She will be greatly missed by all whose life she touched. The Malani family thanks everyone who has called, texted, emailed, and visited during the past two weeks. We also thank Dr. Mira Agarwal, the staff at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, and Elara Caring Hospice for their kind and compassionate care. Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and out of concern for our extended family, the funeral service and cremation will be limited to immediate family only. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bai’s honor can be made to the following charitable organizations.

Chinmaya Mission Ann Arbor

The Hindu Temple of Canton

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital

The University of Michigan’s Maize and Blue Cupboard