INDIAN youths brought a religious festival to its climax with their performance of an epic at the Hindu Temple in Happy Valley recently. Over 200 people sat on the temple floor to watch an all-girls cast perform Ramayan (Romance of Rama) in celebration of the birthday of Lord Rama, a Hindu deity widely worshipped for his chivalry and virtues. Although most of the performers grew up in Hongkong, they performed their cultural dance drama with surprising adeptness and grace. Beautifully clad in bright Indian costumes, the dancers were adorned with gold ornaments and flowers. As they danced to the classic Indian music, their bracelets and anklets clinked rhythmically to the drum beats, filling the temple with a festive and joyful atmosphere. The episode they presented, Sita Haran (The Kidnapping of Sita), was lyrical and dramatic. Rama, a prince in the kingdom of Ayodhya, is unjustly banished to the forest with his wife, Sita. The tricky Ravan, the demon king of Lanka, kidnaps Sita. Playing Lord Rama was Manisha Dhillon, a third former from South Island School who found the role easy to play. ''It's a famous story and we know it by heart.'' The evil role of Ravan went to Arti Jetmalani, a Form 3 student from Island School who loves drama. ''But I think the festival would be more fun in India because we could celebrate with our friends and relatives,'' she said. The younger dancers, aged two-and-a-half to five, created a delightful scene as they gleefully fluttered about as yellowbirds and white butterflies in the woods, welcoming the banished Rama and Sita. The drama ended in suspense with Rama and his brother Lachman to vanquish Ravan. Choreographing the performance was dance teacher Mrs Vidthya Chalam. She said such dances were more than just entertainment. ''I teach the youths classic Indian dances to help them anchor themselves in their own culture since they live away from their motherland.'' Kamni Bharwani, another third-former from Island School and the story narrator, said: ''I like Indian dances better than any other dances because they are our tradition.''