It’s fascinating to be living in a country full of myths and legends. Folktales are stories passed down verbally across generations.
A folktale plays an important role in every society. It plays a great role in passing down history and personality development influencing people’s, especially younger generation’s, attitudes and behaviour. Storytelling also creates a bond between young and old.
During the bygone periods of Sinhala Kings, there was a comedian called Andare who was employed to amuse the King and his Ministers. One of the most popular folk stories in Sri Lanka is the story of Andare. Andare was born in the South of Sri Lanka in a village in Matara District. Folklore has many stories about Andare and the pranks he played on the King, his Ministers and even the Queen.
He was appointed by King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1742 – 1782). Andare used to be a poet who could instantly compose verses to suit any ongoing situation. Despite being a joker, the tales suggest Andare had a great intelligence that aided him in turning situations in his favour. After his death, he was buried in the town of Udamalala, his hometown, where the tomb can be found on the banks of the Udamalala wewa.
There are so many Andare tales…
One day the Queen said she wished to meet Andare’s wife. Andare said “yes”, but said, “Your Majesty, my wife is a little deaf so you must speak very loudly when you talk to her”. The queen agreed. He then went home and told his wife that the queen wishes to see her but as the queen is deaf she must talk to her very loudly. Andare then took his wife to the Queen. The queen and Andare’s wife started communicating, both yelling, hoping to make each other heard. Everybody including the King hurried over to see why the women were yelling. When the King heard about the trick he burst into laughter but the Queen and Andare’s wife both became really angry with Andare.
Andare used to come home very late, and his wife became angry over his continuous late arrivals. She wanted to teach Andare a lesson by keeping him out all night. So one day she did not open the door although Andare kept on shouting. He continued shouting. Getting no response, he then picked up a large stone from the yard and dropped it into the well with a loud splash. The wife got upset thinking he had jumped into the well. When she came out to check, Andare got into the house and closed the door and asked his wife to wait outside till the sun rises.
To play a trick on Andare each of the Ministers took an egg along with him. At the pond when they were bathing one Minister asked who can dive into the pond and bring an egg. All the Ministers shouted that they can. Then all of them dived into the pond. Andare was surprised thinking about how to find an egg underwater but he too dived into the pond. After a while, the ministers jubilantly came up each holding an egg in his hand. Andare too came up, guessing that they had done this to make a fool out of him. But he did not want to accept defeat. So he shouted, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, you are all hens and I am the only cock”. The King saw how Andare had made a fool of the Ministers and had a good laugh. The king liked to enjoy Andare’s pranks. He enjoyed them till the death of Andare…
He is believed to have been born in Devinuwara in the Matara district. He was the second son of Palawinnage Palliyaguru, an accomplished linguist and the teacher at the Church of Devinuwara appointed by the Dutch.
According to the folklore, Andare died of thirst on a trip to his home town. It is said the king hearing the death of his favourite court jester, immediately visited the place of his death and seeing the corpse with all his limbs spread wide made the king smile and said “Dear Andare, you are making me laugh even after your death”.
A tomb and a monument has been built in 2001 where Andare is believed to have died along with a sculpture showing how he died with arms spread.