Tracing sources of Happy Hari incense over time: mystery solved!

I have decided to create this post in order to complement many excellent reviews covering incense that was sold under the Happy Hari brand. My contribution is an attempt to share what I have learnt from direct contacts with Paul`s suppliers in India. This is, probably, my last post about Happy Hari as this subject becomes a bit exhausting and there is a great need to move on!

During this season’s visit to India, one important event occurred: almost the whole picture of Happy Hari operations have emerged and we have a complete understanding with whom Paul was dealing with and from whom he was buying. We wrote in a previous blog post about Meena Perfumery telling us about Paul trying to establish direct contacts with them in order to cut a middle man, but it seems it was the only one company he was able to buy his sticks directly from. Most of his catalog Paul was buying from a reseller, who was supplying many different products to him. 

It explains perfectly why some of his best selling sticks have been replaced with other incense over the years: Nag Champa Gold, Oudh Masala, King of Vrindavan and, probably, some more. 

When Absolute Bliss and other parties resumed selling Happy Hari incense in the West after Paul`s demise, it emerged that sources and blends of some sticks had been changed. 

This is what most respected ORS blog wrote about Happy Hari`s King of Vrindavan in 2021: 

“I believe the new King of Vrindavan stick is almost completely different from the original one based on the historical record below. So I’ll leave that one on its own and just start from scratch as its virtually impossible to compare them. However based on this stick, and Vrindavan-themed incenses in other lines, I’m not sure this is really of the same ilk at all. It actually strikes me more as a flora style incense now, not at all unlike the types of incenses reviewed recently under the El line. I sense both sandalwood and patchouli in this and while there are certainly some hard to define floral oils in the mix, they’re not dominant. It doesn’t have the sort of amber like warmth of the El scents so much (in fact it might be better described as cooling), but it is virtually the same genre of incense. In the end I think this is one whose name might subert expectations if you’re familiar with previous incenses with the label. Compare it to this older review: King of Vrindavan might be the best incense I’ve ever sampled with the V word in it and it’s even better than those with it in the Pure Incense line. This is a thick, heavily perfumed champa with that floral mix that really can only be experienced rather than described. This type of scent really should have earned this Queen status, as this is lovely and feminine, like a mixture of flowers and that sweet scent you get from valentine’s day heart candies. While this doesn’t quite have the subtlety of Dhuni’s Frangipani, it’s roughly in the same category and lovers of this kind of scent will definitely want both.”

Full review is available here:

It is clear that Paul was selling different sticks under the same label. The reason is simple: when you are buying from a reseller, you have a little control over what you are supplied with. And the reseller would like to add his commission to the cost of the incense. And, if the reseller is greedy, he will add a lot of commission. But at some point, due to inflation and scarcity of materials, a reseller would be unable to sell the incense at an old price, because manufacturer will increase his price, and after adding his fat commission, reseller`s total cost of the incense makes it less attractive, then there is only one solution left: a reseller will look for a cheaper source of the incense so he can enjoy adding his fat margins to the cost. I hope it makes sense! This is the reason why Paul was forced to change the incense sources he was selling over time. And this is the reason why people have seen earlier and later versions of Happy Hari incense: two different Nag Champa Gold and Oudh Masala versions in particular. Since the costs went up, a reseller was adding more different lines sourced from other sources, hence new versions of Nag Champa Gold and Oudh Masala emerged over time. 

I must say that we have always been driven by the force of discovery – it is an adventure not only to find new incense but also to share with you our findings about the history of the best incense that was sold in the west: Happy Hari and Dhuni. 

We have to remember that life goes on and, despite the original manufacturer still making the incense Paul was selling twenty years ago, there are many new fragrances that are being developed every year. We will be adding them to our catalog regularly so you can enjoy them. It is our pleasure to share our findings with you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *