Mros decorate their body using different colors; both boys and girls color their lips. They prefer to paint their cheeks, lips and forehead red when they go out for dancing. Females put flowers on head and ears and also a string of small beads on their necks. Only bachelors and spinsters can participate in ceremonial dances. Like the women, the men bore their ears and put on rings. Every Mro blackens her/her teeth. Their musical instruments consist of bamboo pipes called plungs. When dancing, men wear red clothes, with a head-dress of leathers and beads while women dress themselves with flowers, beads and coins.
Mros do not have any written language. The language they speak has some similarity with the Burmese and it seems to belong to the Tibeto-Burman family. In all probability, the Mro language was separated from Tibeto-Burma group at an early period, The Mro vocabulary, syntax, and grammar, to some extent, resemble the Kuki-Chin languages of northeastern India and northwestern Myanmar. Nowadays, some Mros receive modern education at Shialoa school (near Bandarban town) established by the government. Mros talk to their neighbors in the local tongue and know Bangla. In this sense, they are bilingual.
Like other aboriginals, the Mros also live a life characterized by clans. Since the dawn of civilization, the human beings began to live in modest thatch houses built on the plains, on river banks or on the hills. In modern times people have started building concrete houses but the Mros have till now clung to living in their traditional ‘machang ghar’. It is said the ancestors of the Mros settled on hill tops at the dawn of civilization. In this belief the Mros established their settlements in the deep forests high on the hills.
It is said once upon a time the Mros lived in mud houses. As part of their tradition they used put their new-born on the ground but when they observed that ants and insects from the jungles came to bite the babies they decided to build machangs or huts 9 to 12 feet above the ground with the help of wooden poles. Unlike the other aborigines living in such machangs, the Mro huts are bigger in size and uniform in pattern.
The Mros call their huts ‘kim’. They build these huts in the hills with the help of easily available timber, bamboos, canes and thatching grass. Various kinds of leaves are used for roofing. Bamboo is used for making fences. The space below the machang is made into compartments and used for keeping the domestic animals, as kitchen, for entertaining guests, storage and as bedrooms of unmarried children. The valuables of the house are also kept here.
The Mro huts look outwardly similar to the huts of other aboriginal communities but are different in inner partitions. As one climbs up the ladder one can see a bamboo-made cubicle where chickens are kept. In the past they used to hang in various rooms cow horns, head of monkeys, shell of tortoise, feathers of birds, dried fruits and leaves, tree trunks etc seeking wellbeing of the family. The Mros regard their houses as safe and secure abode of peace and tranquility. The kim are a symbol of their creative technical skill.
The economic life of the Mros depends largely on jhum cultivation for cereal crops and on gardening for other crops. In some areas they also cultivate agricultural land. The Mros in the areas of Chimbuk, Rooma andThanchi depend on jhum cultivation and gardening. The jhum season begins in March. For jhum they select a hill and clear its jungles. Then they wait for rain. Once rain comes the Mro men and women have no time to breathe.
They make the hill slopes ready for planting seeds and taking care of the young plants. They start shearing the ripened crops in September. As repeated jhum cultivation reduces the yield of crops, they constantly look for new hills. In the past they used to move their settlements with the change of hills but these days it is not possible as with higher population the land for jhum is becoming scarce.
Mro women are more hardworking than their men. At market places, Mro women do the business of buying and selling. Except salt and kerosene, the Mros produce all other commodities themselves. Early in the morning they eat some rice and leave for jhum cultivation, wrapping in banana leaf some food for lunch and after a hard day’s work return home at sundown.
The crops they produce are rice, wheat, chillies, beans, kakrol. sesame, cotton, tobacco, mustard, peanuts, turmeric, ginger, banana, pineapple and a variety of vegetables like marfa, ladies’ finger, cucumber and gourd. They make cheroot. with tobacco leaf. This leaf is also chewed for intoxication. Like Mro men their women also collect timber from forests. In the face of harder economic life some of the Mros these days work as day labourers, woodcutters, fishermen and have taken to other professionslrkecontractors. Lately many of them have taken up employments with the government and non-government organizations.