Prithvi: a Movement Empowering Rural India,
and its Shop in Arangaon Village

     Personally, I appreciate the increased connection to Arangaon, Baba's village, which the new Meher Pilgrim Retreat facilitates. The road created to get pilgrims and their baggage to the MPR from the main Ahmednagar-to-Meherabad thoroughfare goes right through Arangaon. I love being stuck at the railroad track along with families on motorscooters, people on bicycles and children playing, all of us co-inhabitants of that little slice of the time-space continuum.
      I suspect it's been part of Baba's Plan, not just to send a road through for the sake of practicality, but to intermingle Indian and Western culture more in the village (which Western pilgrims were long told to stay out of) than ever before. In the past few years my friend Sky Wiseman, and now Sky and his wife Njeri, have lived in Arangaon, as have a number of other Westerners. Meherabad Cherry, a little bistro and restaurant, has opened there. And, one of my favorite places, the Prithvi Shop, fronting right on the road to the MPR, has opened to the public with it colorful selection of handmade craft and clothing items.

Kiran, sales clerk at Prithvi store in Arangaon village, India
Kiran, the sales clerk on the day I visited the Prithvi store in December, 2011.

     When I'm at Meherabad, I feel honored buying items for my own use as well as gifts for others at the little Prithvi shop in Arangaon village, right on the road that leads to the MPR. Sharmila Shaligram, who has pioneered this wonderful movement and has organized women in villages all around the Meherabad area, is friendly as well as dynamic. The bags, purses, scarves, t-shirts, wallets, and other items purchased at the Prithvi shop are made by women from these villages. Each woman who works on Prithvi items is required to open a bank account in own name. This is clearly empowering in a revolutionary way. Prithvi has a web page which tells of some of its other projects, including AIDS prevention. And, for those on Facebook, a Facebook page with frequent updates:!/groups/217581501605665/.

In my past two visits to Prithvi, I've bought two beautiful shoulder-bags. The photos will give an idea of the beauty of what the shop carries. It is a very simple "mission" I've taken on, to try to popularize the Prithvi shop among Americans who go on pilgrimage to Meherabad.

Prithvi shoulder bag very colorful previous shoulder bag also very colorful
     Prithvi shoulder bags purchased on two successive pilgrimages. Each has rendered me distinguished service. The one on right is now semi-retired.

Arangaon village area

Two views of Arangaon,
not far from the Prithvi shop.
another view of part of Arangaon village

dirt road to arangaon
                                         photo courtesy of Mayank Kaushik
Dirt road leading from Meherabad to Arangaon

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