Inside a temple, built 300yrs ago by the Queen Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar, the ruler of the state of Indore. Resides the Rehwa Society. A Non-Profit organisation that celebrates the ancient Maheshwari tradition of hand woven fabric.
The Non Profit was established in 1979 by Richard and Sally Holkar who are the direct successors of the Holkar Dynasty.
Traditionally, weaving was an art predominantly carried out by the male members of the family, When Rehwa Society was set up, it became evident that there were many young women in need of empowerment, a sense of purpose and most of all, an income source.
Men and women do work side by side, but still 85% of the weavers working with Rehwa Society are women.
It takes a full 5-7 days to weave one Saree.
These women are hand tying the hundreds knots that go on the end of scarfs and shawls.
Everyone called here “Maaaye” which is roughly translated as Grandma. She has been working with the Rehwa Society for almost 40 years along with a few of her friends.
Such a kind and loving woman.
The silk and cotton threads are so unbelievably thin that its hard to see them with the naked eye.
This man spins the string onto a spindle and he has to hold it with his finger to actually feel if its still there.
Each string has to be separated and hand threaded into the loom. There are thousands of strings across the breath fabric.
To me it just seemed like magic.
Each garment is marked with the weavers name.
Everything is made on site, the looms and all the spindles are hand made by these two guys.
This man demonstrates all the colours that they can make in the colouring part of the shop.
All the fabric is coloured locally, by hand in these pots. And all of the dipping and holding makes these colourists look pretty buffed.
School children getting ready to start their day at the Ahilya school. The school is funded and build by the Rehwa Society
What started as a batch of 60 students and 2 teachers, turned to double the numbers in 1995, and today the Ahilya School educates 240 students, from nursery to Class VIII through the Montessori System. 16 well trained teachers provide their service to the school along with a well balanced curriculum.
The children learn to weave along side their normal education.
The cost of one child’s education for a year is $120. This includes a uniform, a nutritious meal everyday, school books and lot of love and care. benefactors who sponsor a child, will get sent pictures and report cards.
A colony of 40 houses were built for the weavers’ families at a subsidised rate. Regular electricity and water supply were ensured and a hospital was also set up for any medical needs.
A husband and wife at home in one of the colony’s houses.
The old Ahilya Fort where the Rehwa Society is located.
Right outside the fort are the Ghats and the beautiful Narmada River, its a place where people of Maheshwar congregate for prayer and to bathe in the water.