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Andare – Sri Lanka’s beloved jester


If you grow up in Sri Lanka, then the famous fables of “Andare” would undoubtedly be a part of your childhood. For those who haven’t, here’s an introduction. 

Andare was a court jester whose witty acts and satirical comments entertained  both royals and commoners alike. Most of the stories, have a comical ending with Andare getting the better of villagers and even the King. They mainly highlight the mindlessness of others, and pranks. Andare was also an accomplished poet, who could instantly compose verses, to suit  any situation. His true talent however lay in his ability to get away with sheer mockery directed at even the King, who at times tried to get the better of Andare but failed. People took no offence for his light-hearted humour, for ultimately the situation became very amusing. Whether the underlying message of his prank and witticism was understood was understood remains a mystery that never bothered dear Andare! The beauty of his character, was that he just didn’t care. 

So, did this daredevil really exist? There are high chances that Andare was an imaginary caricature born out of the minds of intellects who dared to sneer at the lack of intelligence and vanity of society. Another theory is that he hailed from the Southern town of Matara and was called to the Kandyan empire where he served as the jester. Despite being a mere joker, the tales suggest Andare had a superior intellect that aided him in turning situations to his favour. After his death he was buried in the town of Udamala, allegedly his hometown, where is tomb can be found on the banks of the Udamalala wewa. Though the credibility of the facts are questionable, Sri Lankans love him and for may generations throughly enjoyed tales of his whimsical life. It is said that even in death Andare amused people as a corpse with his arms stretched open. A few famous tales have been translated below for your amusement, however they may have lost their punch in the process.  

How Andare ate the King’s Jambu

The jambu tree in the king’s courtyard blossomed with fruit, but the king had ordered that no one was to look at or touch it. Andare wanted to eat the fruit and thought of a good plan. He covered his eyes with cloth and went under the jambu tree with his hands clasped behind his back and ate the jambu. The guards caught him and took him to the King. The king told Andare that he was going to punish him for disobeying. Andare said he ate the jambu fruits but did not see or touch them as the king had ordered and demonstrated it. The King was too amused to punish him. 

Andare at the Royal Pond

Usually Andare would accompany the King and his Ministers to the Royal Pond. Deciding to play a prank on Andare the Ministers each took an egg with them to the pond one day. At the pond a Ministers asked who could dive under and come back with an egg, and all the Ministers dived in and emerged with an egg. Andare too dived, but understanding the prank, he suddenly emerged from the water crying “ cock-a –doodle doo, you are all hens and I am the only cock.”

Andare’s wife and the Queen

One day the Queen said she wished to meet Andare’s wife. Andare quickly consented, but said, “Your Majestry, my old woman is slightly deaf so you must speak loudly when you talk to her”. The queen agreed. He then went home and told his wife that the queen was deaf! Andare then took his wife to the Queen. The queen and Andare’s wife started communicating, both yelling from each end. The King hurried over to see why the women were yelling. When the King heard about the trick he was tickled.