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Sinxay, hero of Laos

Sinxay aims a fl aming arrow to light the SEA Games cauldron at the opening ceremony on December 9, 2009.

A standout moment in the SEA Games opening ceremony some years ago was the appearance of Sinxay, the mythical hero of a famous Lao epic, who shot a fl aming arrow to light the cauldron that burned throughout the games at the National Stadium. The story of Sinxay deals with philosophy and noble ethics and has invaluable literary qualities, embedded in beautiful poetry. It is memorised by many Lao people, and has been passed from generation to generation to teach the lofty morals underlined in the tale. Sinxay was a powerful, intelligent warrior, whose chosen weapon was the bow, defeating all enemies he faced with the well-aimed tip of his arrows. When he was nine years old, Sinxay asked his mother to give him the bow and arrows he had been born with. His mother agreed to his request, knowing that it was time for her son to begin to sharpen his archery skills. Sinxay carefully banded the bow and sent an arrow fl ying with a sound equal to ten thousand claps of thunder. The arrow fell to the feet of Simphali, the King of the Garudas, who instantly recognised the weapon of God. He immediately gathered his people and set out to serve Sinxay. Sinxay battled against Nyak Koumphan, a giant ogre, to rescue his aunt Soumountha and take her back to his Pengchankingdom. Feeling lonely as he had no wife or family, Nyak Koumphan transformed himself into a giant bird and abducted Soumountha, sister of King Koutsarajin the Pengchan kingdom, forcing her to marry him. Soumountha was renowned as the most beautiful woman in the world and known in ten thousand kingdoms. Nyak Koumphan had seen Soumountha with her nephew Sinxay; demented with fury, he ordered his entire army to combine their strength against the young boy. Sinxay defeated hundreds of thousands of troops in Nyak Koumphan's army in order to bring his aunt back to his kingdom. The valley turned into a lake of blood, the corpses of slain Nyak Koumphan troops piled up high to become mountains of bones. Three times Nyak Koumphan was shot by Sinxay's arrows, but each time he roared and pulled the arrow out and continued to fi ght, spitting insults at the young prince and reproaching Soumountha for her infi delity. When the battle raged at its fi ercest Nyak Koumphan managed to retrieve Soumountha for a short moment, but lost her again to Sinxay's might. Finally Sinxay's superior power, given to him by Lord Indra, felled Nyak Koumphan. Soumountha lamented her fallen husband, but having no other choice, Sinxay was compelled to end it all by beheading the powerful King Nyak Koumphan. Faithful Soumountha kept up a wake for her husband, covering his body with her best hand woven silk scarf while the Kingdom of the Nyak Koumphan was plunged into deep sorrow marked by a silence broken only by the sound of Soumountha's anguished weeping. Regaining her composure, Soumountha asked her nephew Sinxay to go and free her daughter Nang Chan who was married to Rounnarat, the King of the Nyak Koumphan, the powerful serpents, and the fi ght was on again.