Imphal’s Ima Keithal Market or Mother’s Market is an inspiration for women as it is a market that’s exclusively run by women.
A wide range of items is found here- from exotic spices, vegetables, and fruits to beautiful ethnic outfits, and even utensils. The market is a myriad of a variety of things.
So, let’s learn more about these amazing women.
History Of Ima Market
The market was founded in 1533 AD, due to the ancient forced-labor system called ‘Lallup- Kaba’. The cruel system forced Manipuri men to leave their homes and work as field hands in faraway lands or to fight in wars.
The women were left to fend for themselves. Hence, the administration of village and market affairs as well as looking after household chores fell under the laps of women.
They sowed paddy and looked after the farms. Afterward, they went to the market to sell their crops. Thus, this tradition of women being shopkeepers and running the market came into being.
During British Raj
The women of Ima Market have always taken an active part in politics and opposing unfair and harsh policies. In 1939, the market became the center for Nupi Lan or Women’s War, where the women organized marches and rallies against the British.
The women were against the economic and colonial practices of the British who exploited their natural resources and were largely responsible for the decline of local trade.
Even today women of Ima Keithal don’t shy away from speaking out against unjust laws. They were part of the recent Anti-CAA protests.
Anandi Devi, one of the 5000 women who are part of the Ima Market, said, “During a protest, we close all our stalls, and make a human chain around the market, blocking the roads,” she says. “If we don’t agree with something, we strike.”
There is always a credit system in place that allows women to borrow funds to purchase products and other amenities.
Economic and financial independence is essential for women to finally break the bonds of patriarchy and these women from the Ima Market are role models that would encourage women to gain autonomy and self-respect.
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