SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA, June 11, 2014 (India West): Calif. -- Gods, demi-gods, demons, giant ogres, birds and monkeys garbed in splendid bejeweled Indian wear with gilded headdresses and crowns created a vivid spectacle at the opening weekend of the 36th annual production of the epic "Ramayana!" presented here by the students of Mount Madonna School. This portrayal of the epic at San Jose's Mexican Heritage Theater June 6, 7 and 8 was a wonderful amalgam of dance, music and drama.
An agile cast of more than 200 students accompanied by a choir and musicians brought this lyrical and engaging over 2,600-year old story to life, taking the audience -- among whom were many Indian Americans -- from the kingdom of Ayodhya to the isle of Lanka.
The show, which means to capture the essence of this ancient Indian epic, opens with a narration by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and a traditional invocation to Goddess Saraswati. It revolves around the life and times of Rama, the beloved prince of Ayodhya, beginning with his marriage ceremony with princess Sita, his banishment from the kingdom on the eve of his enthronement, and his trials as he endures exile and the kidnapping of his wife Sita.
"I am coming here for the first time because I want my daughter to see this. I grew up in India and my parents used to take me to watch Ramayana. My daughter has not seen anything like this before so it's a perfect opportunity for her," said Ramneek, who came from Danville to watch the show. "The thing that blows my mind is that somewhere in California, this is being done for the last 35 years. As a school production it is just remarkable. The kids' performances along with the setup and costumes are just amazing," said Nalin, a San Jose native who came to the show with friends and family.