Kanaiya Pershad Mahendra Of Southern California Passes Away
India-West Staff Reporter
LOS ANGELES, CA – Kanaiya Pershad Mahendra, a well-known figure in SoCal, passed away on December 10. A beloved father, husband, son, grandfather, brother, and friend was born on October 5, 1950, in Hyderabad, India. He came to America to attend Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. While initially expecting to return to India, a visit to Southern California changed the course of his life forever. Kanaiya ended up relocating to the Golden State to pursue his master’s degree in electrical engineering at California State University, Northridge, making the San Fernando Valley his home for the next fifty years.
In 1979, he met Bharti Devi Waghray, a cricket champion from his hometown. They were married nine days later in Hyderabad, and Kanaiya brought his new bride back to Los Angeles. Their first child, Kapil, was born two years later, in March 1981, and 14 months after that, they welcomed a second son, Anand. The Mahendra household became known for its epic pool parties, with Kanaiya often at the helm of the barbecue, and its warm hospitality, where guests were welcomed like family at any time of day or night.
As an engineer, Kanaiya traveled all over the United States, serving as a systems engineer for blue-chip defense companies such as Aerospace Corporation, TRW, and Boeing (formerly known as Hughes Aircrafts). In the mid-1980s, he had the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to be part of the team that tested the Peacekeeper Missile. He retired in 2014 as a senior engineering fellow at Northrop Grumman.
To say that Kanaiya was a pillar of his community would be an understatement. He dedicated his evenings and weekends to leadership positions with Toastmasters and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and served as president and chairman of the Federation of Indian Americans. He also co-founded the Indian Association of Los Angeles (IALA) and played a key role in creating a visa camp in 1994 to assist other immigrants like himself in gaining entry to the United States.
Friends consistently describe Kanaiya as “the quiet one,” a strong, silent figure whose very presence was a source of comfort. Even his declining health didn’t curb his desire to celebrate with friends, enjoy his favorite sweets, or take long drives.
Kanaiya is survived by his wife Bharti, sons Kapil and Anand, grandchildren Arya, Ryan, Amaya, and Carter, sisters Bharathi and Lajwanti, and brother Dhanraj. He will be deeply missed by his family and the extended community in Southern California, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix.
The funeral was conducted by his loved ones at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, LA, on December 15 and was followed by a gathering of friends and family at the Royal Delhi Palace in Canoga Park.