[WORLDKINGS] Top 100 famous markets in the world – P15 - Ima Keithel Market (India): The 500-year-old all-women market

04-07-2020

(WorldKings.org) Located in the capital city of Manipur, Imphal, Ima Keithel is a more than 500-year-old market that is run and managed entirely by as many as 5000 women, making it the largest and one-of-a-kind all women’s market in Asia.

 

 

Literally translating to ‘Mother’s Market’, the market started in the 16th century with a handful of stalls run by women, and over the years, it grew exponentially into a bustling market of thousands of female traders selling everything from household items to handicrafts and textiles.

 

 

The market is managed by a union of women, and there is one custom that surrounds this Market of Matriachs – only married women are allowed to trade and run the stands here, and this tradition is passed on from one generation to another.

 

 

 

Also, there is a credit system run by the union; where women traders can borrow the money from union for the purchase of goods and pay them back later. This system helps in the smooth functioning of the market.

 

 

 

Every day, women traders dressed in traditional garbs – phanek (sarong) and innaphi (shawl) arrive at the Khwairamband Bazaar (otherwise known as Ima Keithel), set up their stalls and sit in a row selling a wide variety of items, ranging from authentic food items, local produces and groceries, to clothes, utensils, handicrafts, toys, bamboo products, traditional textiles, and everything in between.

 

 

As you stroll around the Ima Keithel, you will be treated to a variety of beautiful sights of people from all walks of life; sounds of cheerful banter, laughter and haggling; and sweet, zesty aromas of fresh local produces and foods fill the air.

 

 

As the sun goes down, women pack up their stuff and head back home. Ima Keithel plays a vital role in the lives of Manipuri women, hence it is often called the ‘Queen of Markets’.

Today, despite the market’s immense contribution to the grassroots economy of the state, it still faces a few challenges every now and then, sometimes from the invasion of new technologies and products, or sometimes by the state government policies. 

 

According to theculturetrip.com


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