Become Acquainted With The Peace-Loving Mru

What better way can there be for adventurous travelers to gain insight into the lives of the people of Bangladesh than to live with them? Located high up in the Bandarban Hilltracts, the members of the peace-loving Mru tribe welcome visitors to share their homes and way of life as part of an eco-tourism initiative which is proving to be most beneficial for both the hosts and guests.

The Mru have lived in the southeastern hill tracts of Bangladesh, as well as western Burma, for many centuries, with a number of scholars being of the opinion that the Mru were the first humans to inhabit the region. Although there are other tribes living in the hills, the Mru prefer to live as isolated units in the highest regions. Their villages are easily identified by the sacred bamboo totems which are a dominant feature. They live in spacious thatched-roofed houses, built on stilts and nestled among the trees, and it is into these charming dwellings that the Mru graciously welcome their guests with warm hospitality.

Farming is the primary occupation of both males and females in the community. Both genders take responsibility for the raising of the children and harsh discipline is unheard of. In addition to these duties the Mru women take care of the cooking and gathering of firewood, which they carry in back-baskets supported by a strap across their foreheads in the same way as their ancestors have for centuries. The women are skilled in a number of traditional crafts such as making cotton thread, weaving, embroidery and beadwork. The men take care of home building, home maintenance and hunting, as well as making a variety of traditional handicraft items such as woven baskets and musical instruments. Guests will have the opportunity of joining in these daily activities and in the process they may even discover some hidden talents as they are taught ancient traditional crafts.

The Mru have a deep appreciation for the beauty of the natural environment that surrounds them and are keen to share this with others who show a similar appreciation. Music plays an important role in their lives, and in addition to playing musical instruments during leisure time, they sing as they go about their daily chores – often with the lyrics focusing on love, life and the beauty of nature, being improvised as they go along. Singing also plays an important role in courtship, with a young suitor wooing the object of his affection with conversation in the form of song, and the young lady responding in the same manner.

Certainly, the Mru are a very distinctive and unique people and those who take time to get to know them when visiting Bangladesh, will find it to be an exceptionally rewarding experience.