“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.”
(Excerpt from ‘Where the mind is without fear’ – by Rabindranath Tagore).
Fear; we’ve all felt it. Fear for ourselves, fear for others, fear for the future. It’s a really powerful and unsettling feeling. It can make us feel sick, panicked, stressed. It has the ability to make us turn cold towards others. To put up isolating barriers.
History tells us that in times of fear and uncertainty, it’s all too common for this to happen – for people to turn away from one another. The sentiment expressed by Pastor Martin Niemöller in his poem “First they came for…” is no less relevant today – when fear and intolerance threaten to divide us.
Never before has the need to break down barriers been more important.
Tagore wrote his iconic poem ‘Where the mind is without fear’ in 1900. In it, he sketched his vision of the nation he wanted India to be. He dreamt of an awakened country where freedom of the mind and spirit would remove all fear of ‘the other’. Where differences of caste, creed, religion or any other prejudices aren’t cause for division and separation.
Five years later, in 1905, he witnessed the British try to break up Bengal on the basis of religion. In one move, a close-knit community of Hindus and Muslims would be pulled apart and set against each other.
Rather than allow his beloved country to be divided, Rabindranath-ji made a stand for unity by invoking the spirit of Raksha Bandhan (in Sanskrit, ‘the knot of protection’). He asked the people of Bengal to take to the streets and tie rakhis on one another as a vow of protection and mutual respect between Hindus and Muslims. The statement was clear: Do not divide us. We are all brothers and sisters here.
We wholeheartedly share in Rabindranath-ji’s vision, and we believe it is now our turn to say: Do not divide us. We are all brothers and sisters here.
So last Raksha Bandhan we made our own call for unity. Every person that visited our cafés on the day of Raksha Bandhan was offered a rakhi – white, as a symbol of peace – and invited to tie it on someone of a different faith, nationality or culture, as a vow of solidarity and protection.
Tying one of these rakhis created a bond, which meant that you would stand up for that person, regardless of who they are or where they are from.
The bonds that were tied last year, still exist now and hold a deep and important significance for us all. They show that we are all committed – bonded – together to protect and care for one another; that tolerance and compassion visibly outweigh intolerance and prejudice; and that we choose to support each other and celebrate our differences, rather than be divided by them.
We can think of few more apt things to do at this time and so this year, we’re celebrating Raksha Bandhan again and inviting you all to tie rakhis on one another. We hope to see as many of you (if not more!) joining us as we strengthen the bonds that bind us.
The Dishoom Home Feast allows you to bring family and friends together at home over a generous selection of our most-loved dishes. Curated as a love letter to Chef Naved’s best recipes from both our cafés and best-selling cookery book, this all-new kit provides welcome shortcuts to favourite Dishoom dishes – you’ll receive an ensemble cast of café classics, all suitable for dishing up and sharing with family and friends.
The Bacon Naan Roll has something of a cult following; it must surely be our signature breakfast dish. The freshly cooked naan is graced with a little cream cheese, tomato-chilli jam and fresh coriander, and wrapped around a few rashers of smoked streaked bacon from top supplier Ramsay of Carluke.
There are many varieties of Chai. The kind we make at Dishoom is the sort of spicy, sweet chai you will find at Bombay's innumerable tapris (street stalls), normally poured with great dexterity and skill from arm's length into a small, stout glass. The powerful concoction of milk, sugar and caffeine is what keeps the city running.
We began working with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2015, supporting them in their goal of ending hunger as a barrier to education in India. Over the years, we’ve developed lasting friendships with the incredible team and had the sincere privilege of visiting many of the schools and communities they serve in India. Last month, we celebrated reaching the milestone of donating 10 million meals to hungry children with Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra through our meal for a meal partnership. Akshaya Patra’s CEO and Trustee, Bhawani Singh Shekhawat, kindly took the time to reflect on the impact of the foundation’s life-changing work.