JANUARY 2017
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

FLORIDA CELEBRATES INDIA REPUBLIC DAY

By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

Here are some of the Florida communities celebrating India’s Republic Day.

SOUTH FLORIDA (LAUDERHILL): The Indian Religious and Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold its Lohri/Republic Day/Kite Flying from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 29, at Central Broward Regional Park, Corporate Shelter No. 1, 3700 N.W. 11th Place, Lauderhill. Kites will be available for sale. For information on the event, which is free to attend, call Sanjay Gupta at (954) 461-4003, Umesh Bhaya at (954) 242-9576, e-mail board@irccflorida.com or visit http://www.irccflorida.com/

TAMPA: The Federation of India Associations (FIA) of Tampa Bay will hold its Republic Day event on Sunday, Jan. 29, at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. Festivities will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with flag hoisting at 1:30 and cultural talent shows from noon to 6. Booths by member associations in respective regional languages will be set up. Food/vendor booths will be day long. For more information, call FIA President Satish Sharma at (813) 943-7285 or event chair Jigisha Desai at (813) 731-7747.

Other activities associated with Republic Day are the FIA Sports Day from 9 a.m. on Jan. 7 at Lake Park, 17302 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz. For details, email Bhanu Prakash at bhanupd@hotmail.com FIA is also sponsoring two scholarships for 2016 high school graduates. Winners will be announced at the Republic Day function. For application, which is due on Jan. 8, email Madhavi Sekharam at madhavisekharam@gmail.com Youth Essay and Art Competitions will be on Jan. 15 at Gurukulam of Tampa Bay. For information, email Vijay Nair at vrnairs@yahoo.com or Sampath at ncsampath@gmail.com A Friendship Cricket Tournament is set for Jan. 21-22 at Rodney Colson Park, Seffner, and Evans Park, Mango. For information, call Prasanna Meenakshi at (813) 404-0969.

ORLANDO: The Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) will hold Republic Day celebrations on Sunday, Jan. 29, in the HSCF Community Hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. There will be a cultural program. For details, call the mandir at (407) 699-5277 or visit www.hindutempleorlando.org/

JACKSONVILLE: Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold Republic Day celebration from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Bolles Middle School, 2264 Bartram Road. Entry is free to ICS members and $5 for non-members. For information, email Republicday@jaxics.org or visit www.jaxics.org

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KAI PO CHE! CELEBRATE MAKARSANKRANT THIS MONTH!

TAF celebrations of Sankranthi Festival last year

Florida communities are preparing to celebrate the festival of kite flying, which also is known as Makar Sankrant, Uttarayan, Lohri and Pongal. Here are a few:

SOUTH FLORIDA

BOCA RATON: The Punjabi Association of South Florida and FAU Indian Students Association will hold a Lohri Mela from 3 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 at Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road; advance member tickets are $8 and $10 at gate; non-members are $10 and$12 at gate; children 3 to 10 years are $5; for information, call Renu at (954) 384-2217, Usha at (561) 523-8665, email pasfnews@gmail.com or visit www.punjabisofl.org

TAMPA BAY: The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Uttarayan from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, at Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. Use MLK entrance. Free for Samaj members. Non-member adults pay $15. Nominal parking fee is payable by all. Snacks and lunch will be served. For more information, call Manish Patel at (813) 270-9896 or Ravi Patel at (727) 692-6399.

Telugu Association of Florida, Tampa Bay (TAF) will host its first ever Dance Dhamaka Competition on Jan. 28 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa, according to President Dr. Neeraja Jasthi. TAF, Tampa Bay was the first Telugu organization formed in the Florida in 1997. This year, TAF completes 20 years in Tampa and to commemorate the 20th year, it will conduct a Dance Competition during the Sankranthi Festival celebrations. Three eminent classical artistes have been invited to judge the competitions, which have been categorized into Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, folk and Tollywood. The last date for entries is Jan. 10. For details, call Shyam Tangirala at (732) 397-4997 or visit http://taftampa.com/cultural-forms/

And on Saturday, Jan. 14, Sanatan Mandir, 311 E. Palm Ave., Tampa, will hold a Lohri/Uttarayan with Mata Di Chowki from 5 to 8 p.m. For information, call the temple at (813) 221-4482.

Also, Ambaji Mandir will hold Vishnu Sahasranaman Paath at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Jan. 14. Ambaji Mandir is at 10991 58th St. in Pinellas. For more information, call the mandir at (727) 388-6685, e-mail ambajitemple@gmail.com or visit www.ambajimandir.org

Laxmi Narayan Mandir, 4615 George Road, Tampa, will hold Vishnu Sahasranaman at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Jan. 14 as part of its Makarsankranti celebrations. For information, call (813) 444-9786 or visit www.srilaxminarayanmandir.org

Also, the Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB) will hold its annual Makar Sankrant program from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, at HCC-Auditorium (Brandon campus), 10414 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa. The event is free for current MMTB members; non-member event ticket is $20 per adult, $15 per student (price includes dinner). For information, email contact_us@mmtbusa.org or visit www.mmtbusa.org

ORLANDO: The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will celebrate Uttarayan from 10 a.m. on Jan. 8 at Apopka City Athletic Complex, 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway, Apopka. Admission is free for 2016 members; non-members pay $35 per person. For information, call (407) 757-7086 or email info@gujaratisocietycfl.com

Lohri bonfire celebrations will be held from 6 to 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 by the Hindu Society of Central Florida, 1994 Lake Drive, in Casselberry. Pre-paid tickets are $12 per person or $15 at door. For details, call Neema Vedi at (407) 805-9198 or visit www.hindutempleorlando.org

Orlando Marathi Mandal will hold its Sankrant picnic at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Eastmonte Civic Center, 830 Magnolia Drive, Altamonte Springs. “A Dot Com Mom,” a Marathi film made in the United States, will be screened. For details, email orlandomarathi@yahoo.com

BARTOW/WINTER HAVEN: The Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Uttarayan from 11 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, at Mary Holland Park, N. Broadway Ave., Bartow. Tickets are $25. For information, call Vinoobhai Patel at (863)293-0942 or visit www.bscfl.com

MELBOURNE/COCOA (SPACE COAST AREA): The Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will hold Uttarayan from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, at F. Burton Smith Regional Park, 7575 W. Highway 520, Cocoa. For information, e-mail iascbrevard@gmail.com or visit www.iascbrevard.com


TAMPA BAY PARTNERS WITH AKSHAYA PATRA TO BUILD KITCHEN IN GUJARAT

Girls served by Akshaya Patra’s kitchens in Gujarat

At its recent Tampa Bay gala, the Akshaya Patra Foundation USA's Tampa Bay Chapter committed to raise $3.1 million to build and sustain a new kitchen in Gujarat, which will be about 38 miles south of Vadodara and serve the communities of Mota Fofalia, Sinor, Dabhoi and Karjan. 

Dr. Kiran Patel, a cardiologist and community philanthropist, galvanized the event supporters with a $1 million pledge to build a new kitchen in Gujarat. He emphasized: “The gift of education is the best that somebody can give to anyone. Imagine a holistic approach where you also provide nourishment for the needy so you are providing health and education together. That is Akshaya Patra.”

Dr. Vijay Patel, a core volunteer and Tampa physician, pledged an additional $1 million to support the worthy cause.

Local businessman, also named Vijay Patel, boldly and generously challenged the Tampa Bay community to match his commitment of $250,000.

Desh Deshpande, chairman of Akshaya Patra Foundation USA and keynote speaker of the event, congratulated the Tampa Bay Chapter, saying: "The Tampa Chapter is an example of what a community can accomplish when they come together to improve the futures of children in a community a world away."  

Rendering of proposed Gujarat kitchen

Dr. Kaushal Chari, chair of the Akshaya Patra Foundation USA Tampa Bay Chapter, stated: "I would like to thank Drs. Kiran and Vijay Patel and Mr. Vijay Patel, along with all the members of the Tampa Bay Community for their generosity, commitment and vision to bring about their campaign for a new kitchen. When completed, this new kitchen will nourish the dreams of the 50,000 children every day.”

Akshaya Patra operates 26 kitchen facilities across India. Each of the 24 centralized kitchens utilizes state-of-the-art technology to freshly prepare hot, nutritious meals daily, following the highest standards of hygiene and food safety. A public/ private partnership with the government of India, Akshaya Patra is the world's largest NGO-run school meal program, and provides school meals to 1.6 million children in 13,210 government schools across India. 

Individuals or families interested in more information about joining this noble effort can contact Emily Rosenbaum, CEO of Akshaya Patra USA, at Emily@apusa.org or visit www.foodforeducation.com

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