Bask in the joy of Diwali at Knightsbridge’s great diversity of colourful venues
A Happy Knightsbridge Diwali
On Sunday 29 October, crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square for an early celebration of Diwali despite the downpour, embodying the contagious spirit of this joyful festival in which anyone can participate, including those out and about in Knightsbridge.
Many Hindus associate Diwali’s origins with the ancient Indian epic, The Ramayana. This classic tale of good triumphing over evil tells the story of Rama rescuing Sita from the 10-headed demon king of Lanka, Ravana, whom he defeats.
Diwali marks the day the protagonists returned to their hometown, Ayodhya, following a period of exile in which their adventure to Lanka began. That their townspeople laid rows of oil lamps to guide these heroes back plays a prominent role throughout the five-day ‘festival of lights’, which represents good triumphing over evil, light over darkness.
The annual festival is famed for houses being adorned with rows of clay oil lamps, called diyas. For Hindus, the idea is to bring the goddess Lakshmi’s good fortune into the home. This is also the thinking behind the traditional Indian art form rangoli, which involves decorating the ground just outside your front door with colourful patterns. The lotus flower serves as one of rangoli’s most common subjects since it is so greatly associated with the goddess.
If you want to try your hand at rangoli or festooning your house in luminous decorations, then it might be worth seeking artistic inspiration at Crane Kalman Gallery, which is currently displaying its Autumn Exhibition of paintings and sculpture until 21 December, or Serpentine Galleries. Both of which showcase a variety of thought-provoking artists bound to achieve the effect.
Among the exhibitions on at Serpentine Galleries is Third World: The Bottom Dimension, which explores the effects of colonialism and challenges people to reformulate conceptions of the ways they relate to reality, especially in the context of modern digital media like video games and livestreaming services. Georg Baselitz Sculptures 2011-2015, in contrast, sees the German artist’s famous wooden sculptures presented alongside his drawings, shining light on the relationship between 2d and 3d media during his artistic process.
Another hallmark of Diwali is exchanging sweets with family and friends. As though made with this in mind, Feya on Brompton Road features an eye-catching nature-themed interior, while the newly opened The Knot Churros is a candy-coloured Barbiecore haven. Stopping off here to enjoy a unique coffee is sure to provide the kind of positive energy with which Diwali overflows, not to mention the sweets on offer for exchanging with loved ones (in keeping with tradition). If hot chocolate is more your cup of tea (so to speak), then try Knoops’ luxury offerings, or perhaps a decadent whipped cream number from award-winning Italian chain Caffè Concerto, which has two locations on Brompton Road.
Keep the fortuitous magic going at Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley, where culinary hyperrealism includes the chef’s signature Fruits and Flowers: round, botanically inspired sweet treats reminiscent of rangoli.
Purchasing gold on Dhanteras, the first day of Diwali, is similarly thought to summon good fortune, and you are sure to find something you love among the boundless gold jewellery on offer in Harrods or Harvey Nichols. To symbolise new beginnings, people celebrating Diwali also purchase new clothes and objects for the home. If you want to redecorate your house in Diwali style, Sterling Interiors boasts a stunning range of lighting, including chandeliers that sparkle with light and colour in equal measure.
To satisfy your sartorial desires, there is the contemporary British label Izaak Azanei, which was founded by three sisters born to an Indian mother and half-Indian father. Karishma, Roshni, and Deeya Khemlani noticed a niche for trans-seasonal staples easy to assimilate into any outfit, which led to their specialising in making elevated knitwear. Their garments (available at Harrods) will surely prove comfy wardrobe favourites beyond the Diwali celebrations.
As with all great festivals, feasting is a most important practice. For some authentic Indian cuisine, visit Madhu’s Brasserie on the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols, where dishes like the Punjabi black Makhani Dal are likely to be novel treats for your taste buds. Grosvenor Park Tower Casino, meanwhile, is set to put up Indian decorations and offer traditional live entertainment throughout November. Alongside its à la carte menu, the balcony restaurant that overlooks the Casino’s gaming floor will offer a specially curated Diwali Menu from 3-30 November, with traditional dishes such as lamb and chicken shish, biryani, Bombay aloo and tarka dhal.
If you will be lucky enough to enjoy a homemade meal for Diwali, then Harvey Nichols has the perfect Indian wine to complement creamy curries and other classic Indian dishes. Dindori Reserve Viognier 2021 from Sula Vineyards, which distinguished wine critic Jancis Robinson rightly identified as India’s ‘leading wine producer’, is produced in Nashik in the Western Ghats Mountains of India. Complete with a monsoon season, the warm climate there adds tropical notes to an attractive fusion of flavours including jasmine, peach, lychee, rosewater, apricot, citrus, and sea salt. And new to the vast food and drink aisles at Harvey Nichols is British-Indian vodka brand Desi Daru, which aims to merge two worlds to create a spirit ‘like no other.’ Using ingredients from Maharashtra, India and the English countryside. Desi Daru has two flavours in its award-winning portfolio: Original, which is crafted from English winter wheat, and a new Mango variant, which recently scooped five Masters medals and was named Taste Master at the Vodka Masters competition.
Bryan Rodriguez-Curtis, junior spirits buyer at Harvey Nichols described Desi Daru as ‘an exciting new vodka brand’ and highlighted the mango flavour as a ‘real triumph’ and a ‘great example of how a classic vodka should be done.’
However you choose to celebrate, we wish you all a Happy Diwali.