All of us, whatever our station, have our own struggles, our own share of rocks to navigate around. Sometimes, the seas are calm, often they are choppy. Years pass in a steady rhythm with their share of joy and laughter, of heartache and headache.
Diwali is a key part of that rhythm. We celebrate it all over India as the end of one year and the beginning of the next. In a narrative sense, it marks the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. For the Bengalis it’s all about the goddess Kali. For Jains, it’s the celebration of Mahavira, the great saint, attaining Nirvana. For Sikhs, it commemorates the release of kings who were held prisoner by the Emporer Jahangir in the 17th century. Many of us celebrate the return of King Rama to Ayodhya with Sita after defeating the evil Ravana.
Whichever narrative we remember, it is certainly a time of observing precious customs passed down the generations. A prayer in the morning brings family together as we light little diyas to drive out the darkness. To add colour to the light we dress up, set off fireworks and make beautiful powder rangolis. Eating mithai puts a lovely sweet taste in the mouth. We seek the blessings of our elders for happiness and prosperity for the coming new year. We visit extended family and friends to express our affection for them and keep bonds strong. It’s a lovely continuity and a Diwali without these customs couldn’t be called Diwali.
It’s also a time to reflect on the year past, which has inevitably been full of many shades of light and dark. We give thanks for all the good things and the good people in our lives. And we can look to the future with hope and excitement. If, reliably, every year, Rama can defeat Ravana, then surely we too can find small victories in our own lives over the coming year.
This is our first Diwali at Dishoom. We’re barely four months old (we can’t make up our minds whether it feels a lot longer or a lot shorter). It’s been extremely hard work – launching any business, particularly a restaurant, is a tough thing to do. There have been exhilarating moments, balanced by times when it seemed that we had embarked upon a completely foolish enterprise. And for whatever it is we have managed to achieve, we are grateful.
So, in that spirit, we wish you all the very best for the year past and the year coming. To the team, we are enormously grateful for your fantastic work. To our families, we truly appreciate the massive support (and we’re sincerely sorry for not being around as much as we should have been!) And to our guests, thank you so much for being great Dishoom-wallas and trusting us repeatedly to feed you and look after you.
The sun is momentarily out again. Calendars are fast filling up. There’s many a thing to do and many a friend to meet. And if we may kindly add to the excitement and the plan-making, here’s our list of what we’re looking forward to in September.
While we were at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we caught Evening Conversations, an engaging show by Sudha Bhuchar. We caught up with her after the show to talk about her journey and her views on South Asian representation on screen, which you can read below. And for those who didn’t walk down the cobbled streets of the city or stumble into an impromptu performance this year, we highly recommend it for 2024.
Each year as August dawns, the streets and rooms and corners of Edinburgh fill with music, art, laughter and song. Wander into grand halls and pokey pubs, as the morning sun rises or in the dark of night, to see creations of every kind as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In honour of this wonderful celebration of the performing arts (and as a little treat), here’s a special edition Dishoom Loves, covering all the acts we’ve circled on our festival programme.
For anyone looking to learn or read more on Partition, this page holds a series of resources, for all ages, created by people knowledgeable and knowing about such matters. It is by no means definitive – we have simply found them to be useful, inspiring and accessible.