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primacy of the female principle is reflected in the general belief among
various tribes that mother is the origin of everything. The female body,
the Mother Earth, the primal force in nature gives birth to everything.
The myths and beliefs of the Khasis and
Garos of Meghalaya , Noctes Singphos,
Mishmis, Tangsas, Adis, Sherdukpens and many other tribes of the northeast
are based on female divinities.
One of the important temples of this region is attributed to Kamakhya , the mother Goddess at Guwahati in Assam . The forest Goddess, "Sengra", is worshipped by Muslim Halams of Tripura. The feminine principle is so overbearing that the sun is considered a female and the moon a male; fire is female and ashes male.
Female Domination In Meghalaya
Though women in general enjoy a high status in society, those from Meghalaya have a place of prominence, the Khasis and Garos being matrilineal. The descent is through the mother, so a daughter is sought after for the perpetration of the family line. Women not only occupy a sound footing legally, they also perform rites of passage. In fact, they also perform rites of passage. In fact, they are so powerful in Meghalaya that like female emancipation in other parts of the country, a movement known as society of the new hearth for male emancipation has started.
Thus contrary to the impression that women are oppressed all over the country, here is a region where women are in full command of the social order and play a vital role in the economic sphere as well.
Adis Women Of Arunachal Pradesh
Women also have freedom to choose their spouse as among the Adis of Arunachal Pradesh. The family of the bride is compensated by the bridegrooms family as the former suffers a loss of their daughter due to her marriage. This is dowry-in-reverse practice and a testimony to the importance of women.
Women of the northeast are independent to a great extent. Their talent finds fulfillment in running household chores, tending infants tied to their backs while working in the fields or shopping or even fetching water from a far off source. Their contribution is much more than the menfolk in running various errands and attending to multifarious responsibilities like sowing seeds, watering fields, weeding and transplanting cuttings.
Meiti Women Of Manipur
The Meiti women of Manipur came out of patriarchal fetters when they revolted against male hegemony by protesting against drunkenness. They established the Ima (Mother) market. It is an exclusively female dominated market where a wide range of wares are sold. The market's unique and worth a visit while in Imphal. It has a dual role. Firstly, it provides financial autonomy to the women and thus raises their stature. Secondly, to seek harmony in the house and to avoid conflicts, the mother in law creates space for true autonomy of the daughter in law by shifting her operation outside the house, thereby giving freedom to the new entrant. Thus, the mother in law and daughter in law are not competitive but supplementary to each other.
Moreover, the younger woman is able to acclimatise herself to her new surroundings without interference, and has freedom in raising the family and attending to household chores. The older woman takes a much-needed sabbatical and socialises with others while also earning. Women are also prominently represented in the markets of Meghalaya , Mizoram and interiors of Tripura .
Representing Regional Culture
Women are repositories of the cultural and folk traditions. The Bihu dances of Assam, the bamboo dance of Mizoram, Ponung Dance of Arunachal Pradesh , Hozaigiri dance of the ranges of Tripura have been retained and practised in purity without contamination from the pop and modern variations.
The women of the region are hardworking and scorn idleness. They shun alibis for inaction. Ennui is unknown to their genius for if at all they have time, they would spend it on weaving sarongs, 'Mekhlas' and exquisite shawls, knitting and other handicrafts that are aesthetic and at the same time fulfill domestic needs.
Reforming The Society
Women of the northeast also have the courage to protest. They had successfully launched a drive against liquor, drugs and narcotics. They are in the vanguard of advancement, seeking reforms where necessary and acquiring education where ever possible.
Though the past is visible prominently in the interiors, the present is gaining a gradual hold in towns and administrative headquarters under the impact of advancement in education, better facilities of communication, broadcast and television network and participation of women in Panchayati Raj.