Inside India’s vibrant 500-year-old market where there are over 4000 traders… and all of them are women
From the dazzling array of fresh fruit, spices and textiles, the sprawling Imphal market in Manipur could be mistaken for any other bazaar in India but it has one distinct difference – all 4000 traders manning its stalls are female.
Ima Keithel which translates as ‘mothers’ market’ is a meeting ground and trading hub, run exclusively by women and is reportedly the largest all-women market in Asia and possibly the world.
Although there is debate over when exactly it was established, some say the market dates back to the 16th century. This female-only workforce originated during the ‘Lallup’ era when men from the Meitei community were called upon to serve the King leaving the women the responsibilities of commerce and farming, according to Oddity Central.
Only married women are allowed to run the stalls and family members pass their trade on to the next generation keeping the enterprising spirit alive.
Despite threat of closure over the years, the market is still thriving. It did however take a battering during an earthquake in January which killed nine people and destroyed some of its structures.
Tourists visiting the region will be greeted by friendly traders offering a lively blend of traditional handcrafted items, modern clothing and local produce.