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Story provided by Shobana Daniell

Central Florida’s ever-popular India Fest will be held on Saturday, April 5, at the Orlando mandir - Hindu Temple in Casselberry. Cultural programs and the food stalls are a big draw for devotees and the local community. Last year, more than 2,000 people attended the festivities. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the community hall will be packed with audiences enjoying folk, regional, Bollywood and classical dances performed by talented artists. Musical and vocal performances also are planned to highlight traditional Indian entertainment. The temple grounds will be transformed into a typical Indian bazaar with a huge ‘shamiana’ (tent) filled with dazzling arrays of Indian clothes, jewelry, handcrafted furniture, etc. Food stalls will offer a variety of regional cooking, and a soft drink and ice cream, including mango, and a chikoo stand. For information, contact the temple at (407) 699-5277 or visit The temple is at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry.

Mike Patel
Story provided by Indo-US Chamber of Commerce

The Indo-US Chamber of Commerce in Tampa will hold its annual 2008 Banyan Ball Saturday, April 26 at the Tampa Garden Club.

Traditionally, the banyan tree, a tropical Indian fig tree with many aerial roots and branches, has been a meeting place for village representatives and communities to meet and discuss issues of the day. “A longstanding theme of our chamber has been to build bridges within our community, providing a forum fostering relationships and togetherness,” said Samant Sharma, president of Indo-US. “So, it is this symbolic nature of the banyan tree after which we have chosen to name our annual black-tie ball.”

Mukesh "Mike" Patel will give the keynote address. Chairman of the board at Haven Trust Bank, he serves business entrepreneurs nationwide from Atlanta. He also was chairman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA). During President Clinton's administration, Patel served on a White House Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders which initiated historic changes for these groups in banking, social services, immigration and relations with India. More recently, he received the 2007 Award for International Cooperation between the U.S. and the U.K. by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The 6:30 to 10 p.m. Banyan Ball is at Tampa Garden Club, which is at 2629 Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa.

Tickets of $125 per individual or $1,000 for table of 10 may be purchased online at under the Pay Online Tab. For information, call Samant Sharma at (727) 799-5615 or e-mail


North South Foundation ( is gearing up for its educational contests in Tampa, Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale this month. Held in the United States since 1993, the contests are designed to encourage excellence among Indian American children and prepare them to enter into better colleges.

Based on the contest category, the contests are grouped into Junior, Intermediate or Senior levels for children from first- through 12th-grade. The contests are conducted every year in two steps. First, children participate in Regional Contests at various locations throughout the country from March through May. Participants with high scores, based on a cut-off, will participate in the National Finals at MIT in Boston during the Labor Day Weekend. The first-, second- and third-place winners from each contest are awarded scholarships of $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively, redeemable in the winners' freshman year of college.

Spelling, Vocabulary and Math bee competitions are offered. Registration fee per contest are $30. Two-third of the registration fees are tax-deductible contributions, which are used to fund noble causes like awarding college scholarships to the poor but meritorious children in India.

Registration closes on April 6 for the Tampa contest, which will be held April 19 at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. For information, call Ravi Subramanian at (813) 973-0477 or e-mail Or call Elizabeth Ignatius at (813) 979-6225 or

Registration closes on April 13 for the Jacksonville contest, which will be at the Hindu Temple, 4968 Greenland Road. For information, call Vinay Ahuja at (214) 215-9732 or e-mail

Registration closes on April 13 for the Fort Lauderdale contest, which will be held at the Nova Southeastern University, Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, Mailman-Hollywood Building, 3301 College Age. For information, call Radhika Satchidanand at (954) 433-5989 or e-mail Or call Anand Guda at (954) 662-7271 or e-mail

Asha Bhosle

In a span of six decades, she has more than 12,500 titles, sung in over 950 Bollywood movies, performed in 18 languages, won seven Filmfare Awards in India, and twice received the National Award for her ghazals. Asha Bhosle is an unparalleled icon in India. A tireless collaborator with artists of all styles, she entered the mainstream pop arena singing with dance music producers, bhangra groups, and Western artists such as Mike Stipe, Kronos Quartet, Boy George and many others.

From Asia to Carnegie Hall, and now the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Bhosle captivates audiences everywhere. The veteran singer will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 18 at Broward Center, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.

Tickets range from $35 to $140 for the concert presented by the Rhythm Foundation and Broward Center for the Performing Arts. For information, call (954) 462-0222, visit or e-mail


Adolescence is a trying time for both parents and teenagers. However, this life-stage can be doubly taxing for South Asian American adolescents and their parents. The neurological and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence, in addition to the cultural expectations (both from the American and South Asian cultures) make this developmental stage doubly taxing for South Asian American adolescents and their parents. South Asian American teens have to struggle with the challenge of infusing South Asian and American cultural beliefs and values to create their unique South Asian American identity.

Infusing beliefs and values from two seemingly opposing cultures can be challenging, and oftentimes may lead to generational conflict. For instance, the teen may begin to assert her/his own individuality, and question the authority of others — values that are clearly in conflict with South Asian values of being part of the cultural group and to respect authority. This could cause some conflict within the family and the child may be reprimanded for being too “Amreekan” (read as: not a good thing). In addition to familial conflict, South Asian American teens may experience stress and anxiety because of the challenges of living in two worlds (a South Asian world at home, and an American one at school). Some teens also may experience depression or develop eating disorders as they struggle to juggle their South Asian and American cultural beliefs and values when trying to cope with issues such as gender equality, dating, arranged marriage, sexuality, and academic and career concerns.

Research shows that well-adjusted South Asian American teens are those that integrate South Asian and American cultural beliefs and values into their identity, and are provided with a supportive environment by their parents. Such an environment can be created by maintaining an open and honest line of communication between parents and teens. It also may be helpful for both parents and teens to try and view the world from the other’s perspective — and this in itself may be an exercise whereby a dialog between the generations can begin.

Material presented in article modified from a workshop of the same title presented by PEHCHAAN Tampa Bay by Amina Mahmood, B.A., Preethy George, M.A., (predoctoral psychology interns) and Yasmina Pandharpurwala, MSW.

Save the date for the next workshop on Adolescent Sexual Health on May 4 at 2 p.m. For information, email or call (813) 810-2470.

Avani Mehta

Avani Mehta of Tampa was recently named one of the top 30 consultants in the United States under 30 years old by the national Consulting Magazine ( “Indeed, this group is changing the world — your world,” writes the magazine about the winners. “And even if you don’t work with them, you likely have seen the indirect effects of their work in your everyday life. That is, if you drive a car, take a prescription medication, use a computer or have been to a retail store lately.” Mehta is manager of IT advisory practice at KPMG, where she has worked for the last six years. “Her client-facing work earned her glowing reviews so often that she was promoted to manager in just three years, becoming the youngest person — at age 23 — to ever hold that title at KPMG,” writes Consulting. The 26-year-old provides IT training to new hires and junior staff. “In 2006, she was voted KPMG’s Instructor of the Year,” the magazine notes. “But she still spends about 40 percent of her time in a client-facing role, often conducting IT training sessions for C-level executives.” Mehta also spearheads the efforts of KPMG’s Involve Group in Tampa and does work with Toys for Tots and Ronald McDonald Tampa Bay Houses. “This is definitely an honor, but even more, it shows the outstanding nurturing and mentoring that I was provided growing up in a caring family,” says Mehta. “This has allowed me to accomplish my personal and professional goals. This type of nurturing is very hard to find in a family and I am blessed to have a strong parental and sibling base.” Last year, Mehta was one of the Tampa Bay Business Journal's annual 30 Under 30 award winner. The weekly business journal program recognized the rising stars in the Tampa Bay business community.


On Saturday, April 19, ‘Shreyas-An Expression of Dance’ will present Sri Krishna Leela, a Bharatha Natyam dance-drama with music in several Indian Languages at 6 p.m. in Tampa. Choreographed in a light classical style, this program introduces the dances through drama. The program is both a tribute to legendary actress and dancer Padmini, and a fundraiser for a charitable cause.

The story goes through several stages of Sri Krishna’s life, from his early childhood pranks, followed by the complaints of the Gopikas, moving on to the love stories of Radha and Krishna. The teenage Krishna leaves Gokul to fulfill the purpose of his avatar or incarnation, by destroying Kamsa. In the next phase of his life, we witness Rukmini’s wedding to Sri Krishna. The ever-playful Sage Naradha plays a teasing game between Sathyabhama, Krishna’s feisty consort and Rukmini, his ever faithful follower. The entire program incorporates all the aspects of traditional dance through music, mime, acting, dress, and rhythmic dancing, while at the same time telling a story.

All the dancers of ‘Shreyas-An Expression of Dance’ are from the Tampa Bay area, and have had several years of dance training. The dance drama was originally choreographed by legendary dancer, Padmini. Sheila Narayanan, director of ‘Shreyas-An Expression of Dance,’ was a student of Natya Peroli Padmini. Both Sheila and her daughter, Shreya, teach together at their studio in Tampa.

The dance-drama will be held April 19 at Walter L. Sickles High School, 7950 Gunn Highway, Tampa. Tickets range from $10 to $15.

For information, call Ravi Narayanan at (813) 760-0323 or Joseph Kurian at (813) 310-0720.

Singers and musicians at the Saint Thyagaraja Aradhana and Composers’ Day.
Story provided by Krish Seetharaman

Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville in collaboration with JAXRAAGA, a local non-profit organization promoting South Indian classical music, celebrated Saint Thyagaraja Aradhana and Composers’ Day on Feb. 9. This has been an annual traditional program organized by JAXRAAGA.

Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847) along with Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1776-1835) and Syama Shastri (1762-1827) formed the trinity in South Indian classical music.

The main contribution of the trinity was the standardization of kriti format as the most important form of Carnatic music. Starting in the 16th century, composers such Muthu Tandavar and Margadarsi Sesha Ayyangar had experimented with the kriti format and the characteristic pallavi-anupallavi-charana structure, one that was followed in Kshetragna's padas. The trinity, particularly Thyagaraja, perfected this format with the result that it dominates Carnatic music today. The 700-odd known krithis of Thyagaraja feature 212 ragas.

The program began with the traditional Pancha Ratna Krithis composed by Saint Thyagaraja by group of singers and musicians from Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, Ocala and Tallahassee. This was followed by solo recitals of kirthanas written by different composers. The five-hour program was well attended.


Tampa and South Florida will be holding their annual Baisakhi celebrations this month. Baisakhi is an ancient harvest festival, which also marks the beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season.

Kicking off the festivities is the Baisakhi Mela on Sunday, April 6 at Tradewinds Park, 3600 W. Sample Road, in Coconut Creek. The event is organized by the Punjabi Association of South Florida.

For details, call (561) 523-8665 or email

The Punjabi Association of America will present its Baisakhi celebrations on Saturday, April 19 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road. Social hour will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. with program, dinner and dancing from 7:30 p.m. onward. The festivities will feature a professional DJ, Bollywood dances and university bhangra teams. Tickets are $25; VIP tickets are $100. For information, call Dr. Satnam Singh at (941) 807-1917 or Amrita Bedi at (352) 597-8342.

Story provided by New Line Cinema

Kal Penn and John Cho are reuniting for a hilarious new adventure in “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay,” which opens on April 25 in theaters throughout Florida.

The New Line Cinema release follows the popular 2004 hit comedy “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle,” which became a cult favorite with fans around the world.

“Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” marks the triumphant return of the two slacker anti-heroes. The movie stars Cho (“Star Trek,” “American Pie”) as Harold and Penn (“The Namesake,” “House,” “Van Wilder”) as Kumar, two stoners who can’t seem to get a break. Their last adventure found them traveling across country to find a White Castle hamburger in order to satisfy a weed-induced case of “the munchies.”

This time, the boys get themselves in trouble trying to sneak a bong onboard a flight to Amsterdam. Now, being suspected of terrorism, they are forced to run from the law and try to find a way to prove their innocence. What follows is an irreverent and epic journey of deep thoughts, deeper inhaling and a wild trip around the world that is as “un-PC” as it gets.

For more information, visit


Swaralaya of Tampa Bay will present a Jugalbandi between two world-renowned flautists on Sunday, May 4. Shashank and Pandit Ronu Mazumdar will blend the ancient classical tradition of Hindustani and Carnatic music.

Shashank’s maiden flute concert was at Adelaide, Australia when he was 11 years old. His performances feature an extraordinary range of musical expression – from the deepest meditations to youthful fun and astonishing virtuosity. Shashank has numerous awards to his credit, including the prestigious title "Kalaimamani" conferred by the Tamil Nadu government.

Majumdar, who is hailed as India’s front-ranking Hindustani flautist, is one of the biggest heart-throb of the younger generation. A powerhouse performer, Ronu is firmly rooted in the Maihar gharana, which has produced eminent musicians such as Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.

The concert is at 5 p.m. at USF Public Health hall in Tampa. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non members. For information, visit www.Swaralya.US

Story provided by Krish Seetharaman

Pandit Nikhil Banerjee (1931-1986) was one of India’s most prominent sitar maestros of the 20th century. To honor his work, the Asian Cultural Association along with the state of Florida, United Arts of Central Florida, the Seminole County Cultural Arts Council, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Orange County Arts and Cultural Affairs, will present The Legacy Tour on Saturday, April 19 in the Orlando area.

Banerjee was 16 years old when Allauddin Khan accepted him as a disciple. Though an extremely accomplished musician, he never stopped studying the almost fathomless depths of Indian classical music, continuing his training with Allauddin Khan's son, Ali Akbar Khan, and daughter, Annapurna-Devi. Banerjee and Ali Akbar Khan performed more than a 1,000 jugalbandis (duets) over their many years together and developed a deep teacher-disciple association.

Banerjee played a significant role in the extraordinary rise in popularity of Indian instrumental music, and the sitar in particular, over the past half century. To many Indian classical music enthusiasts, he was the most outstanding sitar maestro of the modern era. A warm and accessible person, shy and unpretentious, he deliberately shunned publicity.

Performing at the concert in honor of Banerjee are Pandit Parthapratim Chatterjee, Purbayan Chatterjee, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and Anubrata Chatterjee. Many discover the magic of Banerjee in Purbayan. Parthapratim Chatterjee is one of the most prominent disciples of Banerjee while Anindo Chatterjee spent 20 years accompanying Banerjee.

Reserved tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance at Tiedtke Concert Hall, Rollins College, 1000 Holt Ave., Winter Park are $35 and general are $20.

For more information and tickets, call (407) 333-3667, or Dr. Ratan Guha at (407) 380-9226, Chitra Deshpande at (407) 345-5161 or Kiran Arora at (407) 876-5772. Also, visit



Opening a new store or restaurant? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you to meet the rising needs of businesses and our readers. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at

TAMPA TUN-DU-REE RESTAURANT HONORED Hats off to Pat Bhava of Tampa who recently was picked Entrepreneur of the Month by Web site, a premium online community in which professional Indians in the United States can share advice, job tips, insights and news.

Tun-Du-Ree has two locations in Tampa: at South MacDill Avenue and Interbay Boulevard; and the other is at 4004 W. Neptune St. Bhava prides on the fact that all his entrees are priced at $6.99, which include yogurt, cucumber raita, veggies and either tandoori rice or a naan.

For information, call Bhava at (727) 678-1262 or visit


Bombay Masala restaurant in Fort Walton Beach recently was reviewed by the Northwest Florida Daily News. “This family-owned business makes it fun for everyone to try some of India’s favorite food,” wrote reviewer Wendy Victoria. At 326 Eglin Parkway N.E., the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

For information, call (850) 862-0978.

And while on Bombay Masala, don’t forget the eatery by the same name in Tampa. Bombay Masala has been a part of the Tampa tradition for about 16 years now. Vijay Keni opened the 2,500-square-foot and 80-seater restaurant and since then there’s been no looking back for this Bombay native. “We offer mouth-watering, delicious and authentic Indian food,” he says with pride.

Bombay Masala is at 4023 W. Waters Ave. For information, call (813) 880-7511.


Raga Asian Indian Restaurant in Clearwater recently was reviewed by the St. Petersburg Times. “The restaurant has a spice corner in which they grind their own garam masala,” wrote reviewer Laura Reiley about the eatery owned by Madhu and Naresh Sharma, previous owners of Mahal Indian Cuisine.

“At lunch during the week, it’s a Northern Indian buffet, but on Sunday a grand buffet showcases the lesser-known vegetarian delights from Southern India. And at night it’s a la carte, with an interesting smattering of Chinese-inspired dishes. Raga boasts a full bar, a rarity in Indian restaurants.”

Raga is at 16080 U.S. 19 N., just north of East Bay Drive. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch buffet and 5 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends. For information, call (727) 531-6400 or visit

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