“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.
With each new café that we open, we write a story deeply rooted in Bombay history or culture. This story, known to us as the founding myth, informs all aspects of the restaurant’s design. We spend months researching the Bombay of the period and combing the city for the right furniture, both vintage and new. In a way, you walk across our thresholds into our stories.
Bedecked in their annual finery of baubles, tinsel and lights, our cafés are ready to receive you for your Christmas celebration. So too are our chefs, who have assembled a most excellent array of festive fare for your table.
Our soft launch will run from 27th November to 2.30pm on 5th December. And to express our gratitude for being among our first guests, all food can be enjoyed at 50% off across breakfast, lunch and dinner – yes, really.
Stop by any Bombay tapri (street stall), café, or home, and you will likely find yourself with a gently steaming glass of chai in hand. Before the invention of chai, Bombayites drank kadha, an ayurvedic remedy for coughs and colds made of boiled water and spices like cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. Eventually locals started adding tea leaves, milk, honey and sugar to their ‘kadha’. Chai was born.