A Sri Lankan Folk Tale
The Peacock and the Avichchiya
Retold by J.B. Disanayaka
In the forest of this land, live birds of many kinds; Of many sizes and shapes, of many colours and shades. One of the prettiest birds is the peacock, monara, a large bird, which has long tail feathers in beautiful colours and patterns. When it is about to rain, the peacock becomes very happy. He spreads out his feathers and dances in exciting rhythms.

Pea-hens are not as pretty as the peacock. They flock around him to see him dance – his feathers erect into a disc. “Oh what a beautiful sight”, they say.

There lives another bird, like the red-breasted robin, and he is called the avichchiya. Why is he called avichchiya? What does this name mean? Avichchiya means ‘aevit kiyam’ – ‘I will come and tell’. What has he got to tell? And tell whom? That’s another story:

Once upon a time, there lived in the forest two good friends: A peacock and a red-breasted robin just like the avichchiya. At that time, the robin was prettier than the peacock.

Once the peacock had to attend a wedding but he was sad because he did not have a pretty dress to wear. “How can I attend a wedding in my simple dress?” He thought and thought. An idea came upon him. “I will go to my friend avichchiya and ask him to lend his dress for a day”. The peacock met the robin. “My dear friend”, said the peacock, “I have to attend a wedding but my dress is not as pretty as yours. Can you please lend me your dress for a day?”

The robin was kind. He thought for a moment. “After all, the peacock is my friend. I must help him in his hour of need”. He gave his dress to the peacock.

The peacock looked beautiful in his new dress. At the wedding, everyone talked about it. All animals said, “What a beautiful bird is the peacock!”

The robin, without his pretty dress, looked very simple. Days went by, weeks went by, months went by but the peacock never came back to return the robin’s dress. The peacock had begun to like the new dress himself.

The robin felt very sad. What can the poor robin do now except to cry? So he keeps crying all the time, “aevit kiyam, aevit kiyam”. ‘Aevit kiyam’ means ‘I will come and tell’. Tell whom?

He will come when the Future Buddha – Mete Budun – comes and tell him that the peacock has stolen his dress.

‘Mete Budun budu vana da
Aevit kiyam, aevit kiyam,
Mage naduwa aevit kiyam.’

The poor bird still goes about crying all the time, “aevit kiyam, aevit kiyam”. He thus came to be called avichchiya.
The two words – aevit kiyam – falls into our ears as one word – Avichchiya.

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