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The Transcendental Role Of Women In Manipur History

Dr. M. C. Arunkumar & Irengbam Arun

5. Life-Ways of Women Acceptable to Goddess Imoinu

Imoinu is the patri-oriented model of an ideal womanhood. It is expected of an Imoinu woman to submit herself completely to the husband, his kith and kin. To her, the husband represents God and she has no independent existence or meaning except in combination with the husband. The positive aspects of womanhood are next coded by Goddess Imoinu: 6

"Oh Lord! Oh Source of all life! Oh My Beloved! Please hearken! Let me sing of the manners and ways of life of the good women whom I like and appreciate!"

"Women who regard their husbands as divine, women whose voice is soft and sweet, women who can soothe the minds of their tired husbands, women who perform their duties throughout the day and night, women who look after the management of their domestic lives effectively, these are the women whom I like and are adored as my friends. I visit their houses daily and favour them with wealth and children."

"Women who obey orders and who are not fickle-minded, women who eat only after their husbands eat, women who always speak the truth and whose minds are open and sincere, women whose eyes are meant only for their husbands, women who look after their children with love and affection, and who always think of the welfare of their husbands; these are the good, fortunate ones, who are the queens of their houses."

"Women who move away from the path of old people and do not walk on the shadows of their husbands, women who have no ill feelings towards their neighbours, women who do not approach their neighbourhood daily for fire and who keep the family fireplace alive all the time, women who do not depend on their neighbours for any shortage in the family and who bear all such shortages silently, women who can bear the harsh words of their husbands and the mocking attitudes of their neighbours and who are calm in mind and steady in purpose, these are women whose houses are visited by me..."

"Women who have calm minds, women who wear clean clothes, whose loin clothes carry no marks of sitting on them and whose bodies are kept clean, women who hide their faces in the presence of strangers and who show their faces in the presence of their husbands, women who try to beautify their internal lives and not their external, women who are calm of mind and who thoughtfully look after their houses, I like these women and favour them with wealth and property".

But very distinctly, and quite unlike her counterparts in traditional India and China, a Manipuri woman restricts the Imoinu personality in her domestic and kinship roles only. This personality is limited to her roles in the family, kin-group and the leikai (the locality; smallest territorial association). Beyond this, she engages herself (or even she is culturally expected to) in various economic activities and performs other instrumental roles as much as her husband.


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