On the window of Dishoom King’s Cross, we painted the iconic and resounding words of the great Rabindranath Tagore:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
Where words come out from the depth of the truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary
desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Tagore was a true visionary. He saw it as deeply important that people live freely and harmoniously and that they set aside those prejudices that have the power to divide people and even nations. And on 16th October 1905 Tagore peacefully put these beliefs into action.
On this date, the British Empire broke up Tagore’s beloved Bengal on the basis of religion. In one move, the make-up of a nation would be changed, its people pulled up by the roots and displaced to foreign soil. But rather than accept his country being torn in two, Tagore felt compelled to make a stand for unity. He sought to inspire love, respect and a vow of mutual protection between Hindus and Muslims and so invoked the spirit of Raksha Bandhan, which in Sanskrit means “the knot of protection”. Though it is traditionally celebrated between brothers and sisters, Tagore saw an opportunity to extend the meaning of the festival to bring together the people of Bengal. And so he called for the whole community to show their solidarity. Hindus and Muslims took to the streets in peaceful protest, and tied rakhis (the cotton threads that symbolise love and protection) on one another. The statement was clear: Do not divide us. We are all brothers and sisters here.
Through this humble gesture they showed that they were united as a community, and on that day in 1905, the tying of the rahki became a symbol of brotherhood, of humanity, of peaceful coexistence.
These days those events are largely forgotten, eclipsed by the turmoil of later years. We Hindus enjoy Raksha Bandhan as a celebration of the precious bond between brother and sister. We’re very fond indeed of this little festival and the way it brings our families together every year to remind us of the ties that bind us.
And yet our minds often snag on Tagore’s poem. We share his vision – our world should not be broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls of race, caste, religion or any other marks of difference. And a celebration such as Diwali, Eid, Holi or Raksha Bandhan is a great source of joy and, as such, should be shared freely. And so, this Raksha Bandhan, we invite everyone – all humans, not just our Hindu brother-and-sister pairs – to celebrate this lovely, gentle festival with us.
This year, Raksha Bandhan will fall on Saturday 29th August (depending on the moon!). On this day, we will be gifting you all a rakhi or two, to tie on whomever you choose as a symbol of your love and friendship. It could be a sibling, a friend, a neighbour, or even a stranger – it should be anyone you want to share a little happiness and goodwill with! (There’ll also be mithai for everyone, and the requisite materials for anyone wishing to do a little pooja with us – just ask!)
Wishing you all a very happy Raksha Bandhan!
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.