PILGRIMS, WEAVERS, AND SAINTS: THE WOMEN OF MAHESHWAR, INDIA

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMXN’S DAY


In celebration of International Womxn’s Day, I’d like to take you on a journey to the river town Maheshwar, India which I had the pleasure of visting last February. This is the home of WomenWeave Charitable Trust-our weaving partners that create our Handwoven Cowboy Scarves and Handwoven Masks.
Maheshwar is famous for it’s picturesque riverfront and innovative weaving culture. Maheshwari Saris are a well-known and fashionable country-wide. Located on the north bank of the Narmada river. The river front serves as a gathering place for locals. Several temples are situated here overlooking the mighty river.
I had the luck of visiting Maheshwar during the festival of Maha Shivaratri, an annual celebration which transformed the normally sleepy hamlet to a bustling destination in honor of the god Shiva. In fact, the word Maheshwar in Hindi means Great God, an epithet of Lord Shiva.

Many families came from surrounding towns and cities. Vendors popped up overnight to make sure the throngs were well fed, photographed (lots of ‘selfie’ backdrops), and stocked with items such as food, flowers and lamps for puja (the offering of light, food, water and flowers to the divine)

The day after the festival I visited the WomenWeave campus. I met the artisans and gained a more intimate knowledge of how they create our products, and produce for customers around the globe. The atmosphere inside the campus was both cheerful and peaceful. Children played in the child care nook, while freshly washed textiles dried in the breeze.

Maheshwar has a history of empowered women. Namely the esteemed Queen Ahilyabai Holkar who reigned in the 18th century for 30 years. She was known for a peaceful and prosperous reign and for building many Hindu temples. She is now regarded as a saint. Her portrait and statue receive offerings from pilgrims and locals alike.

"The reign of Ahilyabai, of Indore in central India, lasted for thirty years. This has become almost legendary as a period during which perfect order and good government prevailed and the people prospered. She was a very able ruler and organizer, highly respected during her lifetime, and considered as a saint by a grateful people after her death."

— Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India (1946)

Please keep scrolling to enjoy more photos from Maheshwar and to shop our WomenWeave Collaborations.