The 150-Year Odyssey of Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi

The Business of Incense and Fragrances: The 150-Year Odyssey of Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi

Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi prides itself on offering handcrafted incense and fragrant
products that embody authenticity. These products are meticulously made from natural plant
oils and resins, reflecting the brand's dedication to quality.

In a world often dominated by words, one entrepreneur has discovered that fragrances hold the power
to express emotions beyond mere language. Devendra Tribhuvandas Sugandhi, a sixth-generation
entrepreneur, is at the helm of a business as a director that has been transforming lives through incense
and fragrances. Steeped in ancestral wisdom and armed with a profound understanding of fragrances,
Devendra is leading Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi into a future where the magic of ancestral
legacies continues to captivate hearts.

A Journey Forged in Illuminating Origins

Tracing back to the 1640s, the ancestors of Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi embarked on a voyage
from Vadnagar, Gujarat to Wai in Maharashtra's Satara District. Amid the Maratha rule under the aegis
of Shivaji, Wai thrived as a financial center, but the family discerned a distinct possibility and ventured
into a nascent business. Their path was a rollercoaster, leading them to Pune from Satar in 1700, where
a promising destiny awaited. A pivotal encounter in 1701 with a Tibetan spiritual guide altered their
trajectory as they delved into the formulation of incense sticks. This marked the inception of an odyssey
that would resonate through generations, as the fragrant creations gained momentum in the bustling
Sunday Bazars of Pune. The formalization of the incense business occurred in 1872, orchestrated by the
dynamic duo of Damodardas Bhagwan Das (Uncle Nephew Duo). From Pune, their incense began to
grace a burgeoning market in Hyderabad, sparking an exponential rise in production. The narrative
expanded globally, with traces of their products reaching Kabul and even across the seas to Britain.
Notably, the family's patriarch, Devendra’s great-grandfather Purshottam Das, exhibited his
experimental spirit by devising powder incense, a precursor to their iconic Modern Masala Agarbatti
introduced in 1920. The legacy flourished under the stewardship of Devendra’s grandfather Vittal Das,
who ventured to Japan in 1948-50, pioneering the incorporation of bamboo sticks and importing a
pivotal machine. Despite some trial and error, the journey was marked by lessons that propelled the
company's future advancement.

Perfumed Horizons: A Global Odyssey

By the 1980s, their incense creations held sway in the Middle East, particularly in revered destinations
like Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. This marked the onset of substantial export endeavors,
encompassing nearly 20 percent of the company's total sales now. Back on home soil, the products
garnered adulation in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Assam, igniting the company's fervor to seize a larger
slice of other regions. Bolstered by a meticulous marketing strategy, their ambitions extended beyond

Mastering the Aroma Tapestry

The dedication to unraveling the intricate nuances of fragrances, coupled with an unyielding work ethic,
forged the path for Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi's exceptional creations. Gradually, the brand's
commitment to crafting spellbinding creations evolved into an impassioned bond between their
products and the souls that cherished them. The dedication to mastering the intricacies of fragrances
combined with relentless hard work paved the way for the emergence of Damodardas Bhagwandas
Sugandhi's products. Over time, the brand's commitment to crafting enchanting fragrances evolved into
a profound love affair between their products and the hearts that cherished them.

Growth Drivers

Devendra Tribhuvandas Sugandhi's vision is to create natural incense and fragrances that contribute to
the healing and well-being of humanity. The mission is no less inspiring—to infuse the world with the
refreshing and inspiring essence of fragrances derived from natural, residue-free sources. This
commitment to holistic well-being is at the heart of Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi's purpose. “We
source raw materials for incense from different parts of the country. For perfumes, raw materials come
mainly from Mumbai but for Incense the sourcing is widespread. For example, we source raw materials
Nagarmotha and Gigaty powder from the Chhindwara and Betul districts of Madhya Pradesh, whereas
Khus root powder comes from southern states. Again Sandalwood powder, we source from Kerala,” says

The Essence of Excellence

The brand's core values exemplify its commitment to authenticity, quality, social empowerment, ethical
practices, and standardization. Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi prides itself on offering handcrafted
incense and fragrant products that embody authenticity. These products are meticulously made from
natural plant oils and resins, reflecting the brand's dedication to quality.
The brand's commitment to a social cause shine through its initiatives to empower women through
employment. Ethical practices are evident in the certified sourcing and distribution of fragrances,
ensuring a positive impact on both nature and communities. Moreover, Damodardas Bhagwandas
Sugandhi adheres to the high standards set by the International Fragrances and Flavors Association
(IFRA), underscoring their dedication to standardized excellence.

A Bouquet of Fragrance: Product Range

The product range at Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi is a symphony of scents, catering to a diverse
array of preferences. Their incense sticks come in various categories, including Classic, Temple,
Premium, and Economy. With evocative names like Yogda, N-Patcholi, Rajdarbari, and Aasturi Ambar,
these sticks infuse spaces with captivating fragrances. The Attars (scents) are a testament to nature's
elegance, crafted from natural flowers and herbs sourced from authentic origins. Hand-crafted by skilled
artisans, these vivid fragrances linger for more than 12 hours, ensuring an enduring olfactory
experience. Dhoops, another offering, carry an enchanting warmth for prayers and meditation. With
variants like Jasmine, Mogra, Kevada, Oud, Satva, Dashank, Loban, Panadi, Sandalwood, and
Ashtagandha, these fragrant sticks and cups create an ambiance of tranquility and devotion. 

A Fantastic Future: The Legacy Lives On

As Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi continues to flourish under the leadership of Director Devendra
Tribhuvandas Sugandhi, the legacy of scents that transcend words remains as strong as ever. The story
of this sixth-generation entrepreneur stands as a testament to the power of fragrances to communicate
emotions, uplift spirits, and weave connections between generations.

‘Cultural Packaging’ and ‘Incense Media’ support us in keeping pace with the changing time

In a rapidly changing world, how does Damodardas Bhagwandas Sugandhi strike a balance between
traditional craftsmanship and contemporary preferences?

We have crafted a good balance of traditional practices and contemporary preferences for both incense
and fragrances (Attars). On the one hand, we are carrying forward a centuries-long legacy and adopting
new-age technological and marketing tools on the other. Like our ancestors, we continue to focus on
high quality and simultaneously focused on modern trends. During COVID-19, we realized that modern
packaging plays a critical role in the Incense industry now. Hence, we hired an agency to transform our
packaging entirely. With their support, we shifted to ‘Cultural Packaging’ where the focus is not on
Gods/Goddesses but on mythological entities and temples among others. Here, we also aligned our
legacies with modern packaging. It is not an exaggeration to say that with this transformation, within
two years our sales grew by 70 percent. Moreover, we also started focusing on digital marketing and
sales. Now, our online sales constitute 30 percent of total sales. We are using e-commerce platforms
apart from our own website for sales of a wide range of products.

What are other initiatives to drive growth?

I would like to emphasize that earlier we were not very interested in participating in industry
exhibitions, but credit goes to ‘Incense Media’ to help us in getting into this. We got a tremendous
response from participating in the ‘Incense Media’ Expo that was held in Mumbai in May. They helped

us understand the industry and customers’ choices in better ways. The first takeaway from the Expo was
– how to approach customers. And secondly, we learned to project and popularize our offering
effectively. ‘Incense Media’ motivated us to keep on participating in such industry events. We are all set
to launch our new products at Patna (Bihar) Expo, to be held in December.


What are the new products you are going to offer by year-end?

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are very strong markets for incense sticks. We are eyeing these markets very
seriously. However, there is a challenge. Here, people are very price-conscious and we need to make a
balance between quality and price. We would be offering them the best quality new products at a very
affordable price. Along with Masala agarbattis, perfume agarbattis are very popular in Bihar and Uttar
Pradesh. We will be launching both for these two big markets in December. Currently, our focus is to
reduce the cost of production of perfume agarbattis which is traditionally much higher compared to
others. We are making all efforts in this direction and are very hopeful to successfully launch the
perfume agarbattis at a very affordable price. Gradually, we will expand to other regions as well.


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