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Satya Shaw, president of the first annual Asian American Convenience Store Association (AACSA) convention and trade show held on July 9 in Tampa, addresses the gathering. Also present were from left, TV Asia CEO H.R. Shah, Dr. Akshay Desai and Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist. Story, page 11.

More than 750 people attended the first annual Asian American Convenience Store Association (AACSA) convention and trade show on July 9 in Tampa. “Over 1,200 people had registered to attend but because of Hurricane Dennis, we lost some crowd,” said Satya Shaw, president of the convention. Chandrakant Patel, president of the Overseas Friends of BJP USA, served as its chairman.

The day began with a Miss India Florida pageant with seven contestants vying for the title. Shilpa Gogna of Orlando, a freshman at the University of Florida in Gainesville, won the pageant and will participate in the Miss India USA pageant on Aug. 20, also in Tampa. “I am really excited, I have a very good experience and everyone performed well,” said Gogna.

During the daylong event, several vendor booths were set up ranging from financial services, goods suppliers, Indian clothing and jewelry. The purpose of this convention was to unite more than 80,000 Indian convenience store owners under one platform to educate and assist them in dealing with legislations, environmental and labor laws, and security issues, according to Shaw.

Among the speakers at the convention were Tampa-based attorney Nikhil Joshi, who practices labor and employment law. He spoke about how to avoid legal problems and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Michael Zielinski, president and CEO of Royal Buying Group Incorporated, a company that provides services to convenience store owners, talked about how business owners can get more rebates every quarter.

Visiting Harvard Professor Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, who is currently Janata Party president, addressed some of the issues facing Asian American store owners such as free trade and fair policing. Special guests at the convention included Florida State Attorney General Charlie Crist, who gave a speech in the evening, and H.R. Shah, CEO of TV Asia, and chairman of New Jersey’s Krauszer’s National Food Stores chain.

The evening concluded with an entertainment program, “Yaadon Ki Baraat: A Salute to the Legends,” with singers Sanjay Sawant, Sanjeevani, Mohammad Salamat and Sujata.

The second annual AACSA convention will be held on April 22, 2006 at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.


Over 12,000 people are expected to attend India Independence Day celebrations on Aug. 20 at University of South Florida’s SunDome in Tampa, according to Federation of Indian Associations of Florida (FIA) chairman Satya Shaw. Confirmed as chief guest is Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

About 40 groups representing Indian states will present patriotic songs and dances, film dances, bhajans, etc. Booths offering Indian food, music, jewelry and clothing will be set up for the daylong celebration.

Also, the 24th Miss India USA Pageant in association with Dharmatma Saran will be held. Vying for the title along with 34 other contestants will be Miss India Florida Shilpa Gogna of Orlando, a freshman at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Shekhar Suman will be emcee for the pageant.

“We want to showcase Indian culture through a world-class event and promote the Indian American community of Tampa Bay by hosting the Miss India USA pageant,” said Shaw.

However, the India Independence Day celebrations will not be held at the SunDome every year, he said, “since we are not hosting Miss India USA in the near future. We will provide full support for the India Festival sponsored by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay in November.”

For more information, call Satya Shaw at (813) 842-0345 or click on


Here is an update on our last month’s cover story on Parita Patel.

Parita Patel, whose baby Krinna was taken away by the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) on May 31, was given her over 2-month-old daughter back on June 24. That’s not all. The 22-year-old won’t go on trial since DCF dropped charges of neglect on July 20. And come Aug. 5, the two are free to go back to India.

“I am very happy,” said Patel in an interview with Khaas Baat. “I still haven’t decided if or when I will return home since I have to obtain a passport and visa for Krinna, who is now a U.S. citizen.”

The young mother did reveal that her husband Vikesh, who was in India, had applied for a U.S. visitor’s visa. In the meantime, Patel and Krinna continue to stay at a friend’s apartment in Tampa.

If you would like to help Parita Patel, call Malti Pandya at (813) 431-9731 or send a donation to Hindu Temple of Florida, c/o Krinna Patel, 5106 N. Armenia Ave., Suite 3, Tampa, FL 33603.

The seventh All United Brahmin Convention-2005 attracted people from all over the world.

About 520 delegates attended the seventh All United Brahmin Convention-2005 and Matrimonial Introductions on July 2-3 in Orlando.

People from all over the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and even India dropped in at the Orlando Grand Plaza Hotel & Suites for the two-day event, which was organized by the Brahmin Samaj of Florida.

The theme of the convention was “Brahmanism-Vision, Virtues & Values.” The convention’s goal was to provide a common ground for Brahmins from all over the world to come and mingle and form new friendships. For young Brahmins, it was an opportunity to learn about their religion, culture and heritage.

“We had 102 matrimonial candidates,” said convention organizer Mahesh Modha. “We are expecting 8 to 10 success stories in the matrimonial group.”

The Raj and Smruti Pandya group entertained the audience with Hindi and Gujarati songs.

“Overall, this was a very successful convention,” said Modha. “The number of delegates we had was the highest for our convention so far.”

The 2006 convention will be held in New Jersey. The dates have yet to be announced.


About 1,500 people attended the grand opening ceremonies of the Swaminarayan Temple from June 29-July 3 in Lakeland. It was the first U.S. PranPratishtha by recently inaugurated His Holiness Acharya Maharaj Koshalendraprasadji of Ahmedabad who attended all five days of ceremonies.

Among the 13 idols installed in the temple were Harikrishna Maharaj, Radha Krishna Maharaj, Hanuman, Ganesh and also a representation of Shreenathji for the Vaishnav followers.

Yogendra Bhatt presented a five-day Bhagvat Katha, combining the complex concepts of Shreemad Bhagvat with everyday concerns of people by using large doses of humor.

HHAM and Sant Mandal Shobhayatra presided from a specially designed parade float. Devotees sang songs and lit fireworks.

Ishwar Shukla, who was in technical charge of the Yagnabhumi, also handled the murti preparation. Assisting him were Nalin Joshi and Dhiren Shukla.

“Devotees came from Central Florida as well as various International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization (ISSO) chapters in New Jersey, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston,” said Dilip Shah, one of the temple board members. “This is actually the opening of the seventh temple of the original Swaminarayan Sampraday in USA.”

Shah specially mentioned 40 youth, members of the Nar Narayan Dev Yuvak Mandal. “NNDYM is a pet project of His Holiness Acharya Maharaj Koshalendraprasadji who deeply believes in instilling in the younger generation the spiritual values we take for granted as the first generation of Indians in America,” he said.

The temple is at 2798 New Tampa Highway in Lakeland. For more information, call Dilip Shah at (863) 647-2597 or the temple at (863) 687-4776.

Over 30 children from ages 5-13 attended the June 25 HSS camp at Vishnu Mandir in Tampa.
The Tampa branch of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh organized the first ever daylong camps for kids ages 5-13 on June 24 at Sanatan Mandir and June 25 at Vishnu Mandir. The camp objective was to enable children to appreciate their cultural roots and learn Hindu values through various physical, intellectual and spiritual activities. More than 30 children attended the June 25 camp.

The camp was organized and conducted by a team of eight youth swayamsevaks from high school and college under the mentorship of senior swayamsevaks.

Over 30 children from ages 5-13 attended the June 25 HSS camp at Vishnu Mandir in Tampa.
The camp included sessions on yoga/surya-namaskar, cultural games, shlokas, Indian map, arts and crafts, among others. Participants learned valuable lessons about the basic Hindu tenets, precepts and practices.

Swayamsevak Dinesh Chanchalani, who came from Atlanta, led the group with a few simple yogasanas.

During an informative "map session," the campers were familiarized with the land and the legends of India. The June 25 camp also included a section on maps of Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago to show the significant population of Hindus in those areas.

The parents joined in for the conclusion ceremony and prayer as the chief guest, Indira Shastry, handed out certificates of completion to each participant.

Information for this story was provided by the Tampa branch of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh.

By Harikrishna Majmumdar

Harikrishna Majmumdar of California has advised several hundred welfare applicants. The author has attempted to help immigrants to navigate the maze of rules and regulations encountered when approaching the U.S. welfare system.
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We are beginning a series of articles on the “Wisdom of the Yoga Vasistha.” We attempt to bring to the surface the embedded wisdom, which can be applied to one’s everyday life. The expressions of the writer will be contemporary, truths are eternal but the method of _expression will be conversational. We will move in and out of the story to bring subtle points to the forefront. It is not a scholarly approach but will be shared as a story and discussion in the hopes of involving the readers in the joint venture of mutual exploration.

Swami Suryadevananda

Rishi Visvamitra was greeted by King Dasaratha with great reverence and an offer to request for anything he wished; stating that fulfilling his request would be his duty and joy. Visvamitra asked for the King’s son, Rama, to help him vanquish some demons bent on disrupting an important Yajna that he was conducting.

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Acharya Mridul Krishnaji Goswami will present Bhagwat Saptah Aug. 21-27 at Sanatan Mandir (311 E. Palm Ave.) in Tampa.

Swami Goswami was born in Vrindavan in the devout family of Swami Shri Haridas, guru of the famed classical maestro Tansen.

“Swamiji continues to live up to this divine musical talent that has been carried along from generation to generation,” said Veena Rattan of Sanatan Mandir. “Swamiji creates the presence of the lord through his discourses on the Srimad Bhagwatam.”

Swami Goswami has been preaching this divine scripture since the age of 16, and till date has completed more than 700 Bhagwat Kathas.

For more information, call the Sanatan Mandir at (813) 221-4482.

By Nitish S. Rele

Three Indian movies recently made it to Time magazine’s list of 100 all-time favourite films.

Satyajit Ray’s "The Apu Trilogy" (Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Aparajito), Mani Ratnam’s "Nayakan" and Guru Dutt’s "Pyaasa" are part of the unranked but alphabetically listed names compiled by the magazine’s critics, Richard Schickel and Richard Corliss. The two critics each picked 100 films, out of which 40-50 titles made both the lists.

Schickel had this to say about "The Apu Trilogy: “… Ray’s filmmaking is direct in manner, simple in its means and profound in its impact. It is, as another great master, Akira Kurosawa, said, ‘The kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river’ – the river of life as it is ordinarily lived.”

Ratnam gets commended by Corliss in the following words: “He has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster’s miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin’ in the rain.”

And on the classic "Pyaasa," Corliss remarks: “The writer-producer-director-star paints a glamorous portrait of an artist’s isolation through dappled imagery and the sensitive picturising of S D Burman’s famous songs. And Rehman, in her screen debut, is sultry, radiant — a woman to bring out the poet in any man, on screen or in the audience.”

Among the other films making the list were "ET," "The Godfather — Part I and II", "Kandahar," "Schindler’s List," "Psycho" and "On The Waterfront."

Missing on the list was the classic "Gone with the Wind."

Apparently, Schickel and Corliss “don’t give a damn” for the film.

Mental Health Column

It is time for the Tampa Bay community to have a forum where voices can be expressed, respected and heard. This column will provide just such a corner. In time, I hope there will be enough interest generated when you, the reader, will begin to request certain topics of discussion.
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Check out the recipes for Alubukhara wala Lauki Kofta. The combination of bottle gourd and dry plums (Alubukhara) sounds unfamiliar, but it does taste exceptional. The gravy of tomatoes and basil compliments the complex flavor of the croquettes. Read Story

Youth Highlights And Column
The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was first proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, in 1983. The paradigm proposes that the traditional view of intelligence, most often based on Intelligence Quotient (IQ), is too limiting. Instead, Gardner suggests that there are multiple types of intelligences that humans possess. The current MI model distinguishes nine specific intelligences.
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