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MALE' The Capital Story

Once upon a time in Serendip (Sri Lanka) there lived a king whose favourite pastime was to bring cows from the jungle when there was a decline in their population in town. He sent strong people to the jungle who brought the cows under their control and took the animals back to town.

Meanwhile, in the countryside of Serendip, there lived a poor couple. The husband died while his wife was into the third month of her pregnancy. Six months later, she gave birth to a boy. The child was barely able to crawl when his mother passed away. The poor orphan got lost and ended up in jungle while crawling. He found himself amid a herd of cows. He was fortunate enough to encounter nursing cow from which he suckled milk. Quite soon, the boy adopted cow's gait and started moving about on his four limbs.

Male' from top - the capital island
Male' from top - Photo by © Muha

One day the elderly cows instructed the herd to pace forward. The child also ran as fast as could along with the cows. He heard a loud noise and saw a huge serpent moving from one part of the jungle to another.

While the boy was growing among the cows, the king of Serendip sent some people to the jungle as the number of cows in the town decreased. The people were amazed to see the boy living with the cows and took the boy back with them. It took a year for the doctors to straighten his limbs. The king then ordered to teach the boy to converse in the language that the people used. After another year, the boy was taken to the court of the king.

The king asked him whether the boy's parents were alive or not. The boy replied that the king had brought him while he was living with his parents. The king then asked if the boy saw any surprises while in jungle. The boy told the king about the serpent he had seen. The king, after listening to the story, said that the boy was like a flower in the jungle. The king then asked the boy to guide them to the cave into which the serpent had gone.

The king of Serendip went with many of his subjects to the mountain that the boy showed him. However, no one dared to enter the cave, as they feared the serpent. The boy instructed to fill the cave with wood and to burn it. Even after setting fire to the wood, no one dared to go into the cave. The boy went inside the cow and returned with the sand and stones inside the cave. To everyone's surprise, the boy had returned with precious gems and stones. When he told that the cave was filled with them, there was no one who felt reluctant to venture into the cave.

Soon the whole town was full of those gems and they stopped to bring the stones into the town. The king ordered his ministers and priests to the court and asked whether the treasure belonged to him. They replied that the gems were the property of the young adolescent Jangayyah Male'h Fadha Koi (the boy like a flower in the jungle). The king sought their advice on the possibilities of making the treasure his own. Some people advised that if there were no inheritor the state would receive the property when one died. Hence, they advised to kill the young man. Others suggested that if the king offer his daughter's hand for marriage to the koi (young man) then the goods would be the kings own.

Male' the changing view - the capital island
Male' the changing view - Photo by © Muha

Hence, the king's daughter was married off to the koi. But the young man and the princess lived separately in two orchards. The priests were concerned about this and told the king that he did not have any rights over the treasure because of the existing circumstances. The king brought the koi and asked him how he could make the precious collection his own. The young man asked the king to build two ships from the riches of the collection and fill the ships with the treasure and assign slaves to the ships. The koi said that if the king do so then the rest of the collection could belong to the king.

The king of Serendip agreed to the idea and built two ships. The ships sailed away with the koi and the princess. They sighted two little islands and after mooring at one island a tent was put up and the the royal couple stayed in the tent. The koi ordered the slaves to go to the next island. The koi named the island he and his wife stayed as Rasgetheemu. He dubbed the next island where the crew of the ships and the slaves lived as Alhugetheemu.

When the koi had arrived to the island, people lived scarcely in the neighbouring islands. He invited them to a feast and killed them all. Thereafter, the ruler of the area was the Jangayyah Male'h Fadha Koi.

Sometime later, the koi started digging the earth to make a pool in Rasgetheemu. The slaves who lived in Alhugetheemu did the work following the instructions of the koi. Oneday while the work was going on, the koi saw seven black-naped terns. The birds cried while flying over the island and then disappeared. The koi asked to stop the work immediately and told the slaves to go back to Alhugetheemu. After some days, the work of making the pool was resumed. This time five black-naped terns cried while flying over the island and then went away. When the birds disappeared, the work was halted again. After a brief interval of a few days the digging started again. Soon one tern appeared over the island, cried and then went away. The bird returned, circled the island, and cried.

The koi took this as an omen and ordered to stop the work and to prepare the small batheli (a smaller vessel) of the ship for sail. Hurriedly, the royal couple and their slaves left the island following the tern. After several days and nights, the bird landed on the island of Dhoonidhoo in Malé Atoll. When the batheliWent near the island, the tern set off again and landed in the sandbank of Malé. At that time, Malé was a small island, which could be more appropriately called a sandbank. There were some people in this island who were about to go fishing. The koi asked for their permission to settle in the sandbank. They were surprised that he wished to live in the small island, which they believed was not suitable for settlement. The fishermen, who were also from another island, told that they used to dump the waste of fish to this island. They said that there were more suitable islands in the vicinity that could be ideal for settling.

However, the koi did not agree to settle in any island accept Malé. He and his companions set foot on the island with the permission of the fishermen. He then sent the crew to fetch the two ships in Rasgetheemu. Then he sent a letter to the king of Serendip requesting to send some people and goods to start a kingdom. The king of Serendip sent few people who were of the lion race.

The koi had seen the king of Serendip practicing Buddhism. Hence, he and his subjects also adopted Buddhism as their religion and set up idol temples.

Jangayyah male'h Fadha Koi, after proclaiming this Kingdom, declared that he was King Koimala.


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