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IMPHAL: The Ema Keithel has remained deeply embedded with history,culture and identity of Manipur,the market has long been a part of Manipuri tradition with evidence suggesting that it dates back to the 16th Century,known as mother's market or 'Ima Keithel' in Imphal,the capital of India's north eastern state of Manipur,is one of its kind in Asia or even the world at large.
The concept of mother here transcends strict demarcation of communities and hence it has now become imperative for all to preserve its pristine character. The stalls are all operated by women,a mix bag of items from fruits and vegetables to even colourful garments and jewellery and that is why there is a need to shoulder responsibilities by the people cutting across ethnic origins, as historians say as Manipuri men were engaging in wars with the Chinese and Burmese,Manipuri women shouldered the responsibility of supporting their families.
The areas in Ema Keithel have represented the empowerment of women and the might of mothers of Manipur and neither the long running insurgency,nor the visible presence of India's security forces have curbed women from doing business at the market.The vendors have also held protests on various social issues.Every year, the Ema Keithel still continues its grip on the culture of Manipur.
Laishram Ongbi Mema Devi has been selling handicraft at Imphal's Women's Market for more than three decades.
(With inputs from agencies)