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.
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.
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:
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.
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?”
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.
peacock looked beautiful in his new dress. At the wedding, everyone
talked about it. All animals said, “What a beautiful bird
is the peacock!”
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.
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’.
will come when the Future Buddha – Mete Budun – comes
and tell him that the peacock has stolen his dress.
Budun budu vana da
Aevit kiyam, aevit kiyam,
Mage naduwa aevit kiyam.’
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.