Diwali draws near again, and with it fireworks, colour and celebrations. But it’s also worth remembering the narrative of Diwali, passed lovingly on from generation to generation.
The noble prince gives up the throne, his birthright, and leaves with his wife and brother for the forest to honour the aged king’s promise. The princess is kidnapped by a fearsome ten-headed king, the ruler of a splendid southern island. The noble prince meets the loyal monkey god. Together they build an army and a bridge of stones to the island, whence they join valiant battle with demons to rescue the princess. They return triumphantly home, and the prince takes his rightful place as king. Darkness banished, noble prince in his rightful place, tyrannical ten-headed monarch vanquished.
It is a tale of dangerous sorceresses who disguise themselves as beautiful seductresses. Of enchanting shape-shifting golden deer and brave vultures, of chariots flying across the sky. Of the monkey god leaping the ocean, plucking the sun from its place and holding it in his armpit. Of a demon who sleeps for months, and wakes up ravenous for flesh.
It is also a tale of duty. Of placing faithfulness to one’s ideals above personal gain. About serving one’s parents. A tale of patient, loyal service through both the depths of despair and the heights of triumph.
Diwali is about all these things. For Hindus, it marks the vanquishing of evil, the return of the prince, Lord Rama, after years in the forest. When Lord Rama came back to Ayodhya, little diyas – or earthen candles – were lit. We continue this tradition today, with its symbolism of awakening, new joy and hope, the beginning of a new year – an important time to be with family and loved ones.
This year at Dishoom, we decided to delve more deeply into Diwali, its traditions and stories.
On Sunday 23rd October, starting in the morning we have a fantastic day of events (in association with the South Asian Literature Festival) to celebrate the Diwali story.
Adults and children alike will be spellbound by the incredible storyteller Vayu Naidu – who will narrate the story of Diwali in two magical story-telling performances at 11.30am and 3pm. Vayu will use her mastery of the art of storytelling to bring to life Rama and Sita, and tell how Hanuman the wise flying monkey brings peace, light and delight to the world.
In the meantime, kids (and adults!) can delight in having their faces painted as a colourful character from the Diwali story.
The budding artists amongst you can also help our resident art-wallah, Dameon Priestly, create a Diwali Rangoli on the pavement outside Dishoom, while we keep kids warm with Junior Chai (delicious frothy milk, cinnamon and honey).
In the evening – at 6pm, we’ll be showing the mesmerising, funny and beautiful animated film, Sita Sings the Blues. The award-winning film narrates and gently questions the Diwali story. It’s brilliant. Come and relax with a drink and some snacks and enjoy the show.
Meanwhile, for the whole of Diwali period from Tuesday 18th October – Sunday 30th October, we’re doing two special Diwali Feasts, one completely vegetarian and the other featuring our much-loved Dishoom lobster tail. By popular demand, we’ve brought back the Dahi Puri and the Phaldari Kofta Ruby.
So – we very much look forward to seeing you over Diwali and wishing you much prosperity and light over the coming new year!
Sunday 23rd October – Diwali at Dishoom
11am – 1pm – Pavement chalk Rangoli for kids and adults of all ages, with artist Dameon Priestly
(We’ll bring you lashings of Junior Chai to keep you warm!)
11am onwards – Face-painting for kids and adults of all ages
11.30am and 3pm Vayu Naidu, storyteller extraordinaire tells the story of Diwali, princes, princesses and monkey gods! (roughly 45 mins)
6pm – Screening of Sita Sings the Blues with drinks and snacks
The phone keeps ringing shrilly through the flat. Nauzer holds his head in his hands, palms clamped over his ears. “Beta, the phone!” He forgot his mother would still be here. He can’t have her answering in case it is Devia. He runs into the corridor to pick it up. It stops just before he can reach it. Breathless, he looks up and sees his mother in the kitchen.
Tucked away in a lovely corner of Wood Wharf, Dishoom Canary Wharf is now officially open and ready to welcome you all. The marble-top bar is ready to hold your drink, the textured, patterned (and extremely comforting) chairs are waiting to be kept warm and the hand-painted mural and carefully curated art – from Bombay and beyond – are waiting to be part of your conversations.
This chicken biryani is our homage to Britannia’s chicken berry pulao, using cranberries in place of the more authentic Persian barberries, which are tricky to find. (Despite much cajoling, Mr Kohinoor has never shared his wife’s famous recipe.) It is prepared in the kacchi style, originating from Hyderabad, in which marinated raw meat goes into the pot, to be cooked at the same time as the rice.
No party is complete without some delectable pours to toast the host with the most. For the crafty amongst us, bring out the shakers and strainers and the channel knife and pour your energy into building our festive concoction – The Taj Ballroom Toddy. A warming tipple inspired by The Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where Bombay’s jazz age was born.