PILGRIMS, WEAVERS, AND SAINTS: THE WOMEN OF MAHESHWAR, INDIA
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMXN’S DAY
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)