The idea of Hao Keithel

IFP Editorial: The Manipur government needs to consider the development of various Keithelmanbi markets where hill women come to market their produce daily and a comprehensive plan needs to be drawn up for cold storage and godown facilities in the Keithelmanbi markets.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 7 Jul 2022, 3:15 am

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)
Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s announcement regarding the construction of a Hao Keithel in Lamphel area to accommodate tribal women vendors coming from the hills is indeed welcome. Even the name of the proposed new market as ‘Hao Keithel’ and not as Tribal Market or Hill Women Market is indicative of his sincerity towards achieving hill-valley harmony.

For centuries, the hill people were known by the term ‘Hao’ and there is nothing derogatory about it as interpreted by some people with vested interests.

Yet again, the exclusive nature of the proposed market could also be seen as segregation even though an intent of setting an example of oneness and unity in diversity through the proposed new market complex was expressly mentioned in the Chief Minister’s speech on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: ‘Hao Market’ of 32 tribes of Manipur to come up in Imphal

Since times immemorial, the Khwairamband Keithel was the exclusive domain of Meitei women vendors. Besides the original market complex, two other market complexes were added to create more room for vendors selling different wares.


On the other hand, women vendors from the hills were allowed to hawk their wares and produce on the stretch of road connecting BT road and Old Assembly road popularly known as Family Welfare Road in those days and it was known as Hao Keithel.

When a temporary market came up after the demolition of the adjoining Old District Hospital, some of those tribal women vendors came to sit there. Whether these tribal women vendors presently housed in temporary markets would be accommodated in the new Market complex coming up in Tombisana High School still remains a question mark.

Before the Naga Nullah was covered with concrete slabs and converted into parking space, temporary market sheds were erected on the side of the Nagamapal Road and many tribal women vendors were accommodated there. As usual, there are squabbles among vendors regarding vending space at Nagamapal, be it among Meiteis or between a Meitei and a Tribal vendor. But, no other vendors or onlookers took sides and no discrimination was seen during those squabbles.

The state government’s new initiative of constructing a Hao Keithel in Lamphel area must have been an idea after several other hill communities began to demand a vending space after the establishment of a Mao market near the DM University complex recently.

ALSO READ: Provide cold storage facility, shelter place for women vendors of Mao market: MP Lorho Pfoze

Mao market in Imphal has a history of its own. When the southern Angamis prevented the Mao traders from selling their produce in Nagaland in 2015 who did they turn to? They turned to Imphal. SAPO and its youth wing SAYO had been constantly harassing Mao people/leaders on the National Highway, serving quit notice, damaging vehicles, intimidating innocent civilians, vandalizing shops and physically assaulting Mao people and their leaders since long.


The question was, why should Mao seek to sell its produce in Nagaland while there is a high demand in Imphal for vegetable produce including potato. Time and again, Imphal has proven to be a safe market for the vegetable produce in Imphal. Ever since the 2015 violence against Mao farmers in Nagaland, valley based civil society had been facilitating sale of their produce in Imphal and even weekly markets in various places of Imphal.

ALSO READ: Vendors and buyers delight as Mao Market opens in Imphal West

Five years down the line and Mao Market has been opened at different locations in Imphal and elsewhere on a weekly basis since then. There has been a history against Manipuri Nagas in Kohima and Dimapur. There was a time when the Tangkhuls of Manipur were driven out of Kohima. The animosity of Southern Angamis against Mao-Maram people had always been there.

At the moment, a number of women from the hills come down to sell their produce by the roadside at Lamlong Keithel with no permanent structure. The state government also needs to consider the development of various Keithelmanbi markets where hill women come to market their produce daily and a comprehensive plan needs to be drawn up for cold storage and godown facilities in the Keithelmanbi markets located near the foothills.



First published:7 Jul 2022, 3:15 am


N biren singhmao marketHao Keitheltribal markethao markethao market in Lamphelhao

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur


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