Arun Kumar | January 27, 2017 | Manipur
In this chirpy market, there is a woman busy weighing a kilo of fish in one corner, while at another, a woman is knitting and selling fresh woollen clothes. At another part of this famous bazaar, customers are hurriedly buying fresh fruits and vegetables from women clad in traditional bright-coloured clothing called phaneks and innaphis. The market, the Ima Keithel, is one tourist spot that you will find on almost every list of ‘Places to Visit’ in Manipur’s capital city Imphal.
Literally translating into ‘mother’s market’, this all-women market is one of a kind. It is a 500-year-old bazaar with multiple stalls run exclusively by women. The stalls sell things ranging from food items including spices and herbs to earthen pots, metal, stoneware, utensils, jewellery and bamboo. Stalls selling local cuisine are also abundant. These cheerful, friendly women, in between setting their stalls and tackling customers, also find time to discuss social and political issues of the state. All the women here are running their own businesses and not a single man is found selling anything here. Known to be a part of the Manipuri tradition, Ima Keithel is a sign of women’s equality and independence.
(The photo story appears in the January 16-31, 2017 issue)
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