Tribute: A photographer par excellence; a human being even more so!
For close to 30 years, Vinod Devlia had captured the memories of many milestones of the Indian community of Atlanta. His role in chronicling the community through his camera was formidable. But it was his gem of a heart and warm personality that had won him deep friendships and will be missed the most.
Death is inevitable, yet the loss of our dear friend, Vinod Devlia, a devoted father and ardent community supporter, has left us with a universe of mixed emotions. As grief desperately tries to steal the beauty of our countless memories with Vinod, we take solace in knowing that love never dies.
[Right] Vinod was widely appreciated and recognized in the community. Seen here with an award from Raksha.
We now find ourselves asking a lot of questions: Why do the good leave us so early? Why does bad happen to the good? Why does the worst happen to the very best? These questions don’t seem to have any answers. What we do know is that Vinod was the very best of the best. His life was made beautiful through his kind deeds and the helping hand that he extended to those in need. When we were down, he lifted us up. When he wasn’t feeling his best, we tried our best to bring him up. We shared a bond with Vinod that extended well beyond family, religion, and other artificial boundaries. Words can’t express the enduring friendship that we formed with Vinod over the past 25 years.
From photographing the Governor of Georgia in his office at the gold-domed State Capitol building in Atlanta to photographing countless Bollywood superstars, business tycoons, national and international celebrities and dignitaries, Vinod had his share of rubbing shoulders with the high and the mighty. And yet through it all, he remained a portrait of humility.
[Top] With his family
Seldom was there a social gathering that didn’t include Vinod, his photos, his art, his expressions, and his smile. There are countless memories of our children, our families, and our friends, all uniquely crafted by Vinod. As we glance across a wall in a room or online, we discover our very special moments, beautifully captured by Vinod. Fond memories that open a door into the past, but also allow for a look into the future. For a brief moment, this causes sadness and makes us cry, but after a brief pause, a prayer, and pondering over this thought, we realize that this is exactly what Vinod wanted to leave behind in our homes and our hearts—the power of his photos, his art, and his legacy.
A kind heart that lives passionately teaches us how to love and one who loves passionately teaches us how to live, and Vinod was exceptional at both. Although photography was Vinod’s profession, his passion was the love and kindness that made anybody and everybody feel like somebody. Vinod left footprints of kindness wherever he went and with whomever he met. Vinod reminded us through his lens that life doesn’t have to be complicated to be beautiful. He had one simple wish and that was to keep everyone happy and smiling. While we are all busy chasing money, fame, and fortune to feed our fragile egos, Vinod was busy producing the most powerful and precious gems in our human existence: priceless memories.
Vinod will be missed dearly, but he will never leave our hearts or our minds. He has preserved our most precious memories so they will last forever. We will forever remember his art, his passion, and his energy, but most importantly, his kindness to all and his heart that won so many friends.
We take comfort in knowing that Vinod isn’t going away. He will be beside us each and every day, unseen, unheard, but always near. Always loved, still missed, and forever dear.
Niraj Sharma, a tech professional, is also a photographer and a musician who is at the forefront of the desi concert scene in Atlanta. Ricky Walia is the COO of Walia Hospitality Group, a restaurant, catering, and entertainment company specializing in South Asian events and cuisine.
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