Tuesday, April 05 2016, 05:09:42
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Himanshu Roy

JWB Blogger

Do You Know About Ima Keithel – Asia’s Largest All-women’s Market?

  • JWB Post
  •  March 31, 2016


If you are planning a trip to the North East or are anywhere near Manipur, don’t forget to take a quick detour of Ima Keithel! Now before you get confused by the name and think that this might be another hill station nestled in the foothills of Himalaya, let me tell you that it is actually a market that we are talking about.

Yup, Ima Keithel literally translates into mother’s market. And the best part about it? It is only operated by women traders. Now, that’s surely something which comes as a pleasant surprise, given the fact that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is in place in the state and it is also known for insurgency.

This market, which was established some 500 years ago, has a rich history of promoting women empowerment, long before the word was even coined. Actually, be it activism or governmental work, women from Manipur have always been at the forefront.

And that is what reflects when you decide to take a stroll across Ima Keithel! You will see women selling vegetables, fish, craft items and garments. It’s not at all an unlikely sight to see a young toddler tugging on his mother’s saree as she is busy bargaining with a customer.

Every day, around 4,000 women come here to the market to keep this 500-year-old tradition alive. Many of these women are unlettered, yet in them you will be able to see qualities akin to veteran entrepreneurs.

It is inside this market that one gets to see a peek of many indigenous traditions of Manipur. Be it the large array of spices available for sale or the artfully made handicrafts, it’s a big hunting ground for shopaholics. Add to that this tradition of women making their presence felt in business and the buck stops there.

More power to women, we guess!

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