“If I am to die by the bullet of a mad man, I must do so smiling. There must be no anger within me. God must be in my heart and on my lips.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi, 28 January 1948, two days before his assassination.
Martyrs’ Day marks the anniversary of the day Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (fondly known to many as Bapu) was shot down by Nathuram Godse on his way to prayers on 30th January 1948. Gandhiji will always be remembered as the father of our nation, whose life was dedicated to the nurture and service of modern India. It was Gandhi who taught us the principles of ahimsa and satyagraha, non-violence and truth; who always held firm to his beliefs and gave us hope that we could live in harmony together at a time when our country was rendered weak and fragile by the trauma of partition. His assassination, only months after independence was declared, was a devastating, heart-wrenching blow for our fledgling nation.
Every year since then, we have commemorated his life, achievement and sacrifice on 30th January. This soon came to be a day to pay respects to others who laid down their lives for the nation. And so it became known as Martyrs’ Day, and has a similar resonance amongst us Indians as Remembrance Day has for the British.
Every year, a solemn and reflective remembrance ceremony takes place, starting with two minutes’ silence at 11.00am. This is followed by a service during which the President of India, the vice-President, the Prime Minister and the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force all lay wreaths at Rajghat (the memorial erected in Gandhiji’s honour, on the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi). The presence of members of the military underlines the fact that Gandhi’s sacrifice – and his principles of non-violence – are no less powerful than the sacrifice of those who physically fought for India’s freedom.
The simple ceremony draws to a close with the sounding of the Last Post. Afterwards, the many communities and faiths of India gather for prayer services, and so are united in paying their respects to the father of the nation and other martyrs.
Martyrs’ Day reminds us that the path to independence has not been smooth, and that human nature is such that we will always be facing forces of darkness in some form. Where there is violence and destruction, there will also be martyrs. But the day should also serve as a reminder that our strength as a nation lies in our capacity to accumulate and live with difference. India is at its greatest when we all celebrate and honour the truth of our extraordinary diversity – of language, religion, culture, values – rather than allow this truth to tear us asunder. In these troubled times, more than ever we must remember the lessons of ahimsa and satyagraha that Bapu taught us.
This year, on Thursday 20th October, we will celebrate the festival of light at Studio Spaces in Wapping. A night-time affair filled with poetry, live music and bespoke dance performances curated in partnership with our good friend Sweety Kapoor.
Tuesday 12th April – 1973, BOMBAY. It is almost light outside. It must be about six. He’s been awake half the night trying to figure out what to do. Lying on his bed, he stares through the rotating blades of the ceiling fan which only serve to stir the close warm air of his room. He needs to think – he’s running out of time. But his eyes feel salted and his head throbs.
In August, we held a series of events to commemorate 75 Years of Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan. Before the events took place, we were delighted to sit down with Soumik, a super-talented musician, composer and sarod player, who composed the musical score to accompany the 75 Years series. It was a real pleasure to discuss music, identity and inclusivity, amongst many other topics. We invite you to read on to learn more about how he created such a joyous atmosphere at our events.
With greatest delight, we are beyond excited to share that this November we’ll be opening the doors to the brand-new, most fine and gorgeous Dishoom Canary Wharf! Our newest home, nestled in a little corner of Wood Wharf, will bring to life the glittering-shimmering, big-business, metropolitan scene of ‘70s Bombay. When fortunes were made and lost, swindles plotted and uncovered, and dreams were dreamed and broken.