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For ‘mothers’ by ‘mothers’

In Manipur, India, there is a market run by and for women called the Ima Keithel. This market is over 100 years old and a place where women call the shots.

A long tradition

The “Ima Keithel,” which means “mother’s market,” is a centuries-old tradition. Women used to sell their goods out in the open or under a tin roof, but a couple of years ago, a two-part market complex was built. One section contains clothes and accessories. The other section includes food.

All kinds of goodies

Many items are bought and sold at the market, which is also a popular tourist attraction.

Selected vendors

All the Imas have fixed spots and they pay a small fee to the municipal office to set up shop. However, many women walk around selling fruits and vegetables and some sit on the streets outside the market with their goods.

Long work days

The market opens at 7 am and closes by 6 pm Monday through Saturday and on Sundays, it opens at 10 am. Aside from the locals, tourists also like to get a glimpse of the one-of-a-kind market.

Waiting for customers

At work, the women sit in rows, often leaning on each other’s back for comfort.

Keeping warm

An Ima drinks tea and warms her hands on a small coal stove.

Meeting place

Aside from being a place to buy and sell, the “Ima Keithel” also functions as a meeting place where women discuss and debate news and political events.

Photographs: Bijoyeta Das

Editor: Sarah Berning


26.02.2014 | 10:43