Over the last few years, I have collected some inase amount of Maheshwari sarees from various exhibitions and state handloom stores. There is something about this weave that brings me home each time. Soft and lustres, light and airy…. rich in colour yet have that intrinsic simplicty that is only inherent to this fabulous weave. Revived by the Holkar family, the weave orginates from Maheshwar, a city in the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh state, in central India. It was the capital of the Malwa during the Maratha Holkar reign till 6 January 1818, when the capital was shifted to Indore by Malhar Rao Holkar III.
Maheshwar has been a centre of handloom weaving since the 5th century. Maheshwar is the home of one of India’s finest hand loom fabric traditions. Maheshwar is noted as a centre for weaving colourful Maheshwari saris. These cotton saris are weaved with distinctive designs involving stripes, checks and floral borders. The hand looms also make fabric material used for making kurtas and other clothings.
The revival of the Maheshwari saris today, is traced to the establishment of Rehwa Society, an NGO founded by the Holkars, in 1979 to give women employment and revive the town’s textiles. About 130 weavers associated with the society produce over 100,000 metres of fine fabrics every year. The weaving centre is located in one of Maheshwar’s historic buildings. Rehwa Society also provides a free school for weavers’ children and runs a low-cost health scheme. There are few other small local organisations involved in weaving of saris and other fabrics.
Another piece from the glorious times of the region is the beautiful and iconic Ahilya Fort which is now converted into a heritage hotel, founded by ‘Maharajkumar Shrimant Shivaji Rao Holkar’ (Prince Richard Holkar of Indore), a descendant of both Ahilyabai Holkar and the only son of M.Gen. HH Maharaja Shrimant Yeshwant Rao II Holkar of Indore.
Maheshwar lies on the north bank of the Narmada River and its exquisite beauty both of the ancient city and the river is captured by many artists, filmakers and photograhers alike….
So here I am wearing my favorite handwoven Maheshwari saree and thanking the Holkars for reviving this ancient weave…
Song for the day….. Indian Ocean’s “Ma Rewa”
“Maa Rewa tharo paani nirmal….
Maa Rewa tharo paani nirmal
khal khal behto jaaye..
Amarkanth se nikli O rewa
jann jann kari rayo thaari sewa
sewa se sab pawe mewa,
aso ved puran batayo re”
In its literal translation and meaning, the song is addressed to the Maa Rewa or Maa Narmada. It says that ‘the water of the river Narmada is extremely pure and flows constantly. Ever since You originated from Amarkantak, everyone has been worshipping You without exception. Every person who worships You, finds release from their troubles and this fact has been stated in the Puranas.’
With the blessing of Ma Rewa I wish you all a fabulous midweek day you all!!