A Spring Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, near Oxford
Welcome to Tea Tuesday, a dedicated day of the week where I stop and take time for tea, a wonderful English tradition. Spring has officially arrived, and I have a new family of robins setting up house in the bird’s nest outside my office window. Spring is a time of birth, renewal and Easter.
This week Christians around the world are celebrating Easter. A moveable feast, Easter occurs the First Sunday after the Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Just check a calendar, it’s much easier.
Marking the end of Lent, Holy Week leads to Good Friday which commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ who died for our sins on the cross. On Easter Sunday we celebrate his resurrection. Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover by symbolism and where it falls on the calendar. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif.
In the Western world, Easter takes on secular customs, such as egg hunts and the Easter bunny. The English tradition of wearing new clothes at Easter would have been gleefully followed by the women of Downton Abbey, although I am not so sure about the Dowager.The Easter Bonnet, made famous by Judy Garland in Irving Berlin’s Easter Parade is the last of this tradition, which was to keep in harmony with the renewal of the year and the promise of spiritual renewal and redemption.
Tea Time Ritual Recap
Tea Tuesday was inspired by Christine, a follower who lives in France, who was curious about English tea traditions. Whether you take tea for pleasure, or for business as a rising business star entertaining clients, a little knowledge goes a long way.
I offer a new recipe each week, so check out and bookmark Online Guide to Afternoon Tea to keep up to date. Here is a sample of what we have prepared for tea:
What’s New this Week
- April Fools: On Sunday the Telegraph reported that X Factor’s Simon Cowell would be making a cameo appearance on Downton. Strange, particularly since his only acting credit is a voice over on The Simpsons. Fortunately this turned out to be an April Fool’s prank. The Dowager would not have been amused.
- Videos:Downton Paper Pals: So it has come to this in the Downton Off Season, watching paper doll pantomimes on YouTube. Actually this one is in pretty good taste. Follow the link to the 3 part series on my YouTube playlist.
- Videos: Dollhouse Downton. If dollhouses are more your cup of tea, this is a delightful production brought by Grace and Tanvi, who apparently still like to play with their little stuffed animals. A link to my Dollhouse Downton playlist on YouTube. Great fun. Just in time for Easter, lots of bunnies; I love Daisy and Mrs. Patmore as hedge hogs.
- Books: The Countess of Carnarvon is on a book tour to promote her wonderful book, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, outlining the true story of the Lady behind Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed. Once I finish the book, I hope to provide an intelligent review. Again, another project for the Downton Down Time.
- Lady Ellen’s Excellent English Adventure: Speaking of Lady Carnarvon’s speaking tour, stay tuned for the tale of the American who attended one of her Ladyship’s luncheons at the luxury UK hotel Tylney Hall, just down the road from Highclere. Not only did Ellen travel from Boston to the UK to attend the lunch, but was personally introduced to her Ladyship by the hotel organizers, and treated like royalty while she was there. Making a stir as the “American” who attended the luncheon, Lady Ellen will be providing us with summary of her whirlwind trip, and Tylney Hall also promises to provide us with a lovely recipe from their kitchens.
Currant buns have graced tea trays for hundreds of years. Reverend Samuel Wigley founded the Currant Bun Company in Southampton, Hampshire UK in the 17th century. He discovered currants while on mission to the Greek Island of Zakynthos, and brought them back with him to create the currant bun.
The versatile currant spawned a number of favorites. The currant bun is closely related to the Chelsea bun. In 1824 Duncan Higgins adapted Wigley’s recipe to create the classic Chelsea bun at his bakery close to the fashionable Chelsea district in London. It is rolled up like a cinnamon bun.
The currant bun is also closely related to the Hot Cross bun which predates the Chelsea bun (1733). Your currant bun recipe can easily be transformed into hot cross buns by adding cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, raisins, and candied peel. You then drizzle a cross with icing sugar mixed with a little milk. Hot cross buns are traditionally served hot or toasted on Good Friday, the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion.
This recipe makes 12 currant buns
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast (1 tbsp.)
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup currants (I like to soak them for a few minutes to plump them up)
- 2 tbsp. icing sugar
- 1 tbsp. water
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine warm water and 1 tbsp. of the sugar, sprinkle yeast over top. Let stand for 10 minutes or until frothy.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, blend together remaining sugar, flour and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, and eggs. Stir in yeast mixture until combined.
- Make well in the dry ingredients; using a wooden spoon, stir in the yeast mixture until a soft dough forms. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are new to working with yeast doughs, aim for 10 -12 minutes to get the hang of it.
- Transfer dough to a large greased bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 1 hour or until the doubled in bulk. If you can stick 2 fingers in the dough and the indentation remains, you are ready to proceed.
- Punch down; turn out onto floured surface; knead in currants. Shape into a 12-inch long log. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
- Roll pieces of dough into smooth, seamless balls. Place buns on greased baking sheet leaving about 2 inches between each bun. Cover loosely and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Bake in 400 F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Stir together icing sugar and water, brush over warm buns; let cool on rack.
Gadar – Overseas Indians Attempt to Free from British Serfdom
By Inder Singh
Gadar Movement is the saga of courage, valor and determination of overseas Indians who had come to and the either for higher education or for economic opportunities. They imbibed the fire and zeal of revolutionaries and became the trail blazers of freedom struggle for their motherland, . They may have lived ordinary lives but they left an extra-ordinary legacy.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, both and were British dominions, so, Indians had easier access to emigrate to . The new immigrants were hard working and accepted lower wages, so some Canadian companies publicized the economic and job opportunities available in to seek more cheap labor from . During the first few years, every year about 2000 immigrants, mostly Punjabi farmers and laborers were permitted to come. As the number of immigrants increased, the locals felt threatened by labor competition from the hardy and adventurous Punjabis. Fear of labor competition led to racial antagonism and demands for exclusionary laws from cheap foreign Asian workers. In 1909, severe immigration restrictions virtually ended legal Indian immigration to .
When Indian immigrants saw the doors closing on them in , they started coming to the which needed more people to do hard labor work to build new communities. In the U.S, they faced many difficulties, suffered numerous hardships and encountered rampant discrimination. Initially, they could find only menial jobs, but over a period of time and with their hard work and determination, many of them became successful farmers with their own land.
Within a span of few years, number of immigrant workers had swelled, so they starting facing widespread hostility which led to racial riots, resulting in certain cases, a loss of life and property. Like , the , which had initially welcomed the Asian labor to do menial jobs, enacted Asian exclusionary laws to bar Asians emigrating to the .
For discriminatory treatment and damages in race riots, the Japanese and Chinese governments sympathized with their overseas nationals and negotiated with the American government for compensation for life and property losses. But the British Indian Government would not make any representation to the U.S. Government for similar losses. Indians soon realized the difference between the citizens of a “slave” country and those ruled by their own people.
The had also welcomed qualified Indian students seeking admissions in the American universities. However, upon graduation, they were not able to get jobs commensurate with their qualifications. The discriminatory practices were against the very ideals of liberty and freedom they had seen in their University environment. The Indian students attributed the racial prejudice and discrimination to their being nationals of a subjugated country. They were motivated to get rid of the foreign rule in and were determined to fight for freedom for their motherland. They also started fostering feelings of patriotism and nationalism among their fellow Indian Immigrants.
Many Indians and particularly Indian students in the , , , , and , started advocating freedom for their motherland, from British serfdom. They formed organizations or groups for ’s freedom. Taraknath Das, a student, started publishing a magazine Free Hindustan in 1907 in Seattle, advocating armed rebellion against the British rule in India and also formed “East India Association" in 1911; G. D. Kumar started a Punjabi paper Swadesh Sewak in Vancouver while Shymji Krishna Varma founded Indian Home Rule Society in London.
In the , Har Dyal who had come from after relinquishing his scholarship and studies at was identified with nationalist activities. He inspired many students studying at the of at . Two of his many student followers,Katar Singh Sarabha and Vishnu Govind Pingle later on played veryprominent role in the Gadar movement. Dyal’s fervor for ’s freedom spread beyond the university campuses. A meeting of some patriotic and enlightened Indians was called on , in , , where Har Dyal, Bhai Parmanand and others passionately spoke for throwing the British out of . It wasat this meeting that Hindustan Association of the was formed with a major objective to liberate with the force of arms from British colonialism, just as Americans had done more than a century ago, and help establish a free and independent with equal rights for all. Sohan Singh Bhakna was elected President, Hardayal, General Secretary, and Pandit Kanshi Ram Mardauli, Treasurer. Lala Har Dayal who had been a faculty member at for about two years, was the central figure and the force behind the newly formed organization.
The headquarters of Hindustan Association of the was established in , which served as a base for coordination of all the activities of the association. A building was purchased with funds raised from the community, primarily Punjabi farmers and farm and lumber mill workers and was named Yugantar Ashram. The association began publishing a magazine, Gadar, for free distribution to promote the aims, objectives and activities of the organization. Gadar, literally means revolt or mutiny,was published in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, among other languages. “The first issue of the journal Gadar was in Urdu and was published on . An edition of the journal was brought out next month in Gurmukhi and in May 1914 a Gujrati edition of the journal was also published.” Says Anil Ganguly in his book “Ghadar Revolution in .”
The Gadar publication exposed the British imperialism and called upon the Indian people to unite and rise up against British rule and throw the British out of . It carried articles on the conditions of the people of under British Rule and also on problems of racial attacks and discrimination against Indians in the and . The publication Gadar, over a period of time, became well known among Indians and the Hindustan Association of the itself became known as the Gadar party. Besides Gadar, the group brought out various publications to raise the consciousness of the Indian people to revolt against the British. Special issues of Gadar were also printed in Nepali, Bengali, Pashto, Gujrati, as well as in many other languages.
Gadar literature was sent to Indian revolutionaries in , Europe, , , The Philippines, , , , , , , , and . In a short period of time, publications from the Yugantar Asram, particularly the Gadar magazine became very popular.The British government got alarmed and used every means to stop the circulation of Gadar and other such publications, particularly in . The magazine, being the principal patriotic literature, reached many people; even if one copy reached or to a fellow revolutionary elsewhere, multiple copies were made for circulation.
Hindustan Association wasbarely a few months old when under pressure from the British Indian Government, Har Dyal was arrested by the U.S. Government. He was released on bail on but soon left for and then to .The sudden departure of Har Dyal did create some vacuum in the organizational structure of the association but it did not cause the death of the organization. The seed of revolt that Har Dyal sowed, had developed into a formidable organization. Many committed and dynamic volunteers continued to work tirelessly and pursued the planned activities of the association.
In , Har Dyal continued to promote his mission, independence for . He knew that Germans had great sympathy with the Gadar movement because they and Gadarites had common enemy, the British. Har Dyal, along with Virendra Nath Chattopadhyay, younger brother of politician-poetess Sarojani Naidu, Barkatullah, Bhupendra Nath Datta, brother of Swami Vivekananda, Ajit Singh, Champak Raman Pillai, Tarak Nath Das, and Bhai Bhagwan Singh formed Berlin Indian Committee in September 1914, also known as the Indian Revolutionary Society. The objectives of the society were to arrange financial assistance from German Governmentfor revolutionaryactivities and propaganda work in different countries of the world, plan training of volunteer force of Indian fighters and arrange transportation of arms and ammunitions to reach the Gadarites for a revolt against the British Government in .
The war between and broke out in August, 1914 and created a golden opportunity for gadarites to expel the English from while British troops would be busy fighting war at the front. The gadarites started forceful campaign to mobilize overseas Indians in , , , and and particularly Punjabis in and the to go to and launch revolution. They drew plans to infiltrate the Indian army and excite the soldiers to fight not for but against the British Empire and free from the shackles of British imperialism. The Indian Revolutionary Society in had arranged for substantial financial aid from . The German Embassy in had engaged a German National in the to liaison with the Gadar leadership in . Several ships were commissioned or chartered to carry arms and ammunitions and batches of Indian revolutionaries, about 6000, to .
Besides , the gadarites also sought help from anti-British governments. In December 1915, they established a Free Hindustan government-in-exile in , with Raja Mohinder Pratap as President, Maulavi Barkatullah as Prime Minister and Champakaran Pillai as Foreign Minister. The government-in-exile tried to establish diplomatic relationships with countries opposed to the British in World war l such as , , , etc. The gadarites also established contact with the Indian troops at , and in some other countries and hoped for their participation in the uprising against the British.
The British Government tried to suppress the Gadar Movement and had hired agents to penetrate the Gadar party almost from the beginning. Har Dyal used the columns of Gadar to caution his compatriots against British spies. The traitors of the Gadar movement leaked out the secret plan to the British spies. As a result, the ships carrying arms and ammunitions never reached . was originally planning to send more ships carrying arms and ammunition to , lost interest in the venture after seeing the fate of original vessels. Many gadarites and volunteer fighters were taken captives upon reaching . Some of the active gadarites who escaped arrests, including Kartar Singh Sarabha and Vishnu Govind Pingle, made alliance with Ras Behari Bose and other known revolutionaries in . They had come to to overthrow the British rule and wanted to unite and work with all those forces that were working to liberate . They tried hard to mobilize the people and infiltrate into various units of the armed forces. But the British spies out maneuvered them. They also could not get the support of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of ’s Freedom movement, who had already committed full co-operation with the British Indian Government.
Before leaving for , the Gadarites were given the impression that was ready for a revolution. So, when the World War l provided a golden opportunity for them to attain their goal, they hurried homeward for revolution. What an irony; while the gadarites had gone to India to fight willingly for the freedom of their motherland, the Indian leadership openly and willingly co-operated with the British prolonging India’s serfdom; while the overseas Indians prayed in Gurudwaras and temples for the success of Gadarites’ mission, the people in India flocked to Gurudwaras and temples to pray for the victory of the British.
The Gadarites had a flame of liberty lit in their hearts, and did not hesitate to make any sacrifice for the cause of freedom, dignity and prosperity of their motherland. They fought valiantly for their cause; several Gadarites in were imprisoned, many for life, and some were hanged. In the too, many Gadarites and Germans who supported Gadar activities, were prosecuted and some were incarcerated for varying terms of imprisonment. Although the movement did not achieve its stated objective, but it awakened the sleeping and left a major impact on ’s struggle for freedom. The heroism, courage and sacrifices of the Gadarites inspired many freedom fighters to continue their mission.
A prominent Indian writer, Khushwant Singh, wrote in Illustrated Weekly, on ,“In the early months of World war I, an ambitious attempt to free their country was made by Indians living overseas, particularly in the and . Although the overwhelming majority of the Gadrites were Sikhs and the centers of revolutionary activity were the Sikh temples in Canada, the United States, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore, many of the leaders were of other parties and from different parts of India, Hardyal, Ras Bihari Bose, Barkutullah, Seth Husain Rahim, Tarak Nath Das and Vishnu Ganesh Pingley. …… The Gadar was the first organized violent bid for freedom after the rising of 1857. Many hundreds paid the price with their lives.”
Inder Singh is President of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin(GOPIO)and chairman of Indian American Heritage Foundation. He was NFIA president from 1988-92 and chairman from 1992-96. He was founding president of FIA, Southern California. He can be reached at email@example.com