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The Women’s Market in Imphal

by IT Web Admin
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I am extremely sad that the New Year earthquake of 2015 which has hit Manipur, has also heavily damaged the historic Women’s Market in Imphal.
I first heard of the historic and culturally important Women’s Market a number of years ago, before my daughter Katherine and I were to make our very exciting visit to Manipur in the spring of 2014.  We were following in the footsteps of our ancestors Frank and Ethel St Clair Grimwood (who had both greatly loved Manipur and its people), and we were met with wonderful hospitality and great kindnesses by so many Manipuris, including the Governor and Chief Minister.  We were both very excited to be able to visit the Women’s Market at last!
The Women’s Market is a vibrant and essential trading centre for the local women.  We were delighted also to find it full of vitality, good humour, warmth and generosity of spirit.  The wonderfully wide selection of colours of the beautiful woven fabrics made our choices very difficult as we looked for the material for our phaneks to wear for the Khongjom Day commemoration.  The ladies in the market were very helpful in their advice for the most suitable fabrics, and we took our final choices to the seamstress with her hand sewing machine to transform them into the elegant long skirts that we would wear a few days later for the ceremonies.
The damage wrecked by the earthquake a few days ago is a tragedy for the people of Manipur, especially of course for those who have lost loved ones, or who are seriously injured.  The buildings that have been damaged or destroyed are of course not as important as are the people who were lost, and buildings can be replaced, but, when decisions are made, the needs of those most affected must be accorded priority.  It seems vital that the Market is rebuilt faithfully to preserve its unique character and purpose.  Future tourism and such necessary income from visitors will depend substantially on this historic feature of Imphal and the very special experience that it offers to tourists who come to visit it.  It would indeed be a further tragedy if this piece of Manipur’s history and culture is not valued sufficiently for it to be fully restored to its original and unique function.
We greatly look forward to our next visit to Manipur and to being able to see the women traders back in their wonderful home of the fully restored Women’s Market.

(The writer- Judith Macauley is the descendent of the British political agent , Mr Grimwood and visited Manipur and Ema keithel couple of years ago)

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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