Andare - the court jester of medieval Sri Lanka

Andare was born in the South of Sri Lanka in Devinuwara. He was employed as a court jester by a Sinhala King. There are many amusing tales about the practical jokes and tricks he played on others. I will relate a few: Andare used to come very late from the palace in the night over which his wife was irritated and angry and she wanted to teach Andare a lesson by keeping him out till sunrise. Though Andare kept on shouting, she did not open the door. He then picked up a large stone from the compound and dropped it into the well with a loud splash. The wife got upset thinking he had jumped with 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!

One day, Andare’s family went to attend a wedding. Knowing Andare’s funny behaviour, his mother warned him saying Gonek wage indin and not to create a scene. When the ceremony was on Andare, started head-butting the people present, with two fingers held on either side of his head-like horns. On hearing the commotion created by Andare, his mother came and scolded Andare and took him home and asked him why he behaved that way, to which Andare replied "Why mother you asked me to behave like a bull"!

On another occasion, the queen told Andare that she liked to see his wife and to bring her to the palace. Andare said, "But your Majesty she is deaf." The queen said she will speak very loud. He went home and told his wife that the queen wished to meet her and to come along with him. He told his wife that the queen is deaf (it was not so) and to speak very loud. His wife was not deaf.

When they were having the conversation, the King and his ministers heard the commotion and came running to see what was going on. Seeing Andare, they knew it was a trick by the Andare and had a hearty laugh.

The king liked to enjoy Andare’s pranks. He employed Andare for that purpose!

The queen and Andare’s wife were very angry with Andare at first, but knowing who Andare was, they too enjoyed the joke.

As there are so many other Andare tales, I would request others to write to The Island, so that we may share the humour.

V. K. B. Ramanayake

www island.lk

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