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The Transcendental Role Of Women In Manipur History

Dr. M. C. Arunkumar & Irengbam Arun

4. The Ideal Imoinu Womanhood

As the Goddess of Wealth, Imoinu would bless all those who follow her code of conduct. She is believed to preside over the household fireplace. Tradition has it intact till date that a separate place is earmarked for the Goddess immediately next to the fireplace, and it is obligatory for every woman to offer a morsel of the meal on behalf of the household to the Goddess before the family partakes daily grub. The ancient Imoinu code of Manipuri womanhood is designated Imoinu Ahongbigee Tungnapham and in the text, Imoinu would herself command the desired values of the codes of conduct for ideal woman:

"Oh Lord! Please hearken! Let me first record the manners or ways of life of the female group disliked by me. Those women who change their dress daily to beautify their external appearances even though their mind and heart are unclean; those women who utter sweet words even when their mind is impure; those who laugh loudly contorting all their faces; those who have secret affairs with the opposite sex; those who get excited at the sight of men even if they have their own husbands - these women are hollow and worthless. I dislike such women and I turn away from their houses."

"Oh Lord! Please hearken! Those women who use poisonous words, who are given to intrigue and who disobey and challenge the words of their husbands these are the women of bad character... I refuse to bless such talkative women and rumour-mongers."

"Women of bad manners and wrong attitude; women who eat with big mouthfuls, I am against them. I dislike women who are furious and violent by nature and speak stamping on the floor. I turn away from the houses of women who outwardly accept their husbands' words, but in reality take them in other ways."

"Women who go to the houses of their neighbours daily and who listen attentively to the motivated words of others are those who should be put to shame... The lives of men who become intimate with women whose husbands have died recently are seriously impoverished. I refuse to visit the houses of such women."

"Oh My Beloved! Please hear! I turn away from the houses of those women who sweep the floor by swinging the tips of the broom wildly or likewise those who sweep when someone is eating the meal..."

"Oh Lord! Please hear! I turn away from the houses of those women who make the floor of their houses dirty with dust falling from their feet and who walk on the floors producing heavy thudding sounds..."

"[I] avoid women whose voice sounds dull, who throw scowling glances, grumble loudly and show their anger, pulling long faces... I also turn away from the houses of such women as are mongers of news and rumours and who are in the habit of disclosing the secrets of their families to their neighbours..."

"[W]omen who are not devoted to their husbands, who do not look after their parents-in-laws properly, who speak ill of their husbands in the neighbourhood, who trample on the clothes used by their husbands, and who kick their sons and daughters by way of punishing them these are all ill mannered women whom I abhor and whose houses are not associated with me." 5


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