History of Raksha Bandhan

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
domestic walls;
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 DiwaliEidHoli 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!

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Thoughts from Rachael Anderson, Head of Schools at Magic Breakfast

We began working with Magic Breakfast in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in the UK. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting and loyal friendships with the incredible team and their partner schools. This month, we celebrate reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children in partnership with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. Magic Breakfast’s Head of Schools, Rachael Anderson, has kindly taken the time to reflect on the last six years of our work together, as well as sharing her thoughts on the profound impact the past twelve months have had.

Children sit cross legged at school

10 million meals for children

Since 2015, for every Dishoom meal you’ve enjoyed (whether in the cafés, via delivery, or as a meal kit), we’ve donated a meal to a child that might otherwise go hungry. A meal for a meal. This month, as we reached the milestone of donating 10 million meals, we had occasion to catch up with our dear friends and long-term charity partners, Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. The work both charities do to end hunger as a barrier to education is simply incredible and we’re extremely proud to be able to support them and the communities they serve in the UK and India, respectively. We kindly invite you to take a moment to hear their reflections on our partnership and on the impact of the very important work they do. 

Dishoom Uttapam Stack Recipe

Uttapam are a fluffy savoury dosa, made with rice. They're usually enjoyed with savoury toppings but we particularly like ours with lashings of jaggery syrup and a thick, strained yoghurt. Chef Naved has shared his recipe for making an extra fluffy stack at home.

How to Serve the Permit Room Old-Fashioned

Our Old-Fashioned bottled cocktail takes its name from the Permit Room bar, found in every Dishoom and so named after the official term for all Bombay drinking establishments, in which, according to the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949, only permit-holders may consume alcohol. Herein, liquor can be sold and imbibed, but only for the goodness of one’s health.

Though the doors of the Permit Room are closed for now, you can still enjoy our tipples in bottled form at home. Follow our lead to achieve the perfect pour, and transport yourself back to a cosy corner of the bar.