In the 1970’s, Maheshwar was far from the prosperous golden era of the 18th century. With a skilled weaving community and exquisite textiles, future prospects seemed good, but no one could predict the disastrous effects of industrialisation. After India’s independence, everything seemed to be mill-made, and everyone seemed to like it that way! The weavers were left without a market for their beautifully hand-woven fabric and they were slowly but surely falling into neglect.
One evening, in the year 1978, Richard and Sally Holkar were taking a stroll on the ghats during a visit to Maheshwar. The young successors of the Holkar Dynasty were stopped on their way by a man with a piece of cloth hanging off his arm. He showed the light, fine fabric to them, telling them of the hardships his people faced, asking a favour of them- to somehow help his people find a source of income again. The Holkars were captivated by the thought of helping the people of Maheshwar, and soon thoughts became words and actions. With a grant from the Central Welfare Board and an investment of 79,000 rupees to train weavers, REHWA Society was established as a non-profit organisation in 1979.