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Performers at last year’s IndiaFest in Melbourne.

MELBOURNE: The city on the Space Coast of east central Florida will kick off its Indiafest 2008 on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wickham Park Pavilion. This year’s theme is, “Natural Approach to Wellness.” Admission tickets are $4 for adults, $1 for children 12 and under. Children ages 5 and younger are free.

Amid all the excitement of music, dance, tantalizing foods, henna, jewelry, arts and crafts, Indiafest will have displays and demonstrations of methods such as ayurveda, homeopathy, yoga, herbal treatments and other natural methods that help improve wellness.

The festival is presented by Manav Mandir with support from the Indian Association of the Space Coast. For more information on the Melbourne festival, call Yasmin Majeed at (321) 720-8590 or visit

WEST PALM BEACH: A week later, on Saturday, Feb. 23, the Palm Beach India Association will hold its fifth annual IndiaFEST from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Meyer Auditorium, 105 Evernia St.

In the past years, more than 10,000 people have attended this free outdoor event. It features a variety of music, dance and cultural performances; food, jewelry, audio and video, clothing and craft vendors and art exhibits.

“IndiaFEST is a way for us to celebrate the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of India with the South Florida community,” said IndiaFEST 2008 chair Kaveri Valliappan.

For more information, click on or e-mail

Story provided by APAI

India Jazz Suites featuring kathak dancer Pandit Chitresh Das and tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith will take to the stage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Amaturo Theater, in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Feb. 24. The two will perform to live music on sarangi, tabla, sitar, piano and drums. The concert is presented by the Association of Performing Arts of India.

Das and Samuels Smith met backstage in 2004 at the world-famous American Dance Festival. One 23 years old, the other 59 years old; one from the streets of New York and the other is from India’s city of Joy, Calcutta. One is a rising star of the American art form of tap; the other an established master of kathak.

Das and Samuels Smith explore kathak and tap’s compelling similarities in footwork, rhythms, improvisation and movement. India Jazz Suites will begin with the duo performing their respective traditions (India’s classical kathak and America’s tap dance). The second half highlights dancers and musicians communicating across disciplines with rhythm and improvisation as the common language. Dynamic exchanges fly back and forth between styles of footwork, the North Indian classical language of rhythm (bols) and the contemporary form of rap and between tabla and Jazz drums.

The concert will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Amaturo Theater, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $22-$75. For information, call (954) 462-0222 or visit


Mumbai-born author and Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie will make his first public appearance in Tallahassee on Friday, Feb. 22. The controversial writer of such international bestsellers as “The Satanic Verses,” “The Moor’s Last Sight” and “Midnight’s Children” is one of the speakers during the 10th annual Seven Days of Opening Nights arts festival at Florida State University.

His 8 p.m. speech at the Ruby Diamond Auditorium (Wescott Building) on Feb. 22 is being presented in conjunction with FSU’s Creative Writing Department. Tickets are $15 to $50. Rushdie’s upcoming novel, "The Enchantress of Florence," is set in Renaissance Florence and the court of the great Mughal Empire.

Other artists and entertainers who will be present at the festival include comedian Martin Short, singer-actor Art Garfunkel and jazz trumpeter Chris Botti.

For more information, visit or call (850) 644-6500.

More than 150 Tampa residents converged at Bayshore Boulevard on Jan. 12 to support diabetes awareness by participating in the annual BAPS Charities Walkathon.
Story provided by BAPS

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease. On Jan. 12, more than 150 Tampa residents converged at Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa to support diabetes awareness by participating in the annual BAPS Charities Walkathon. In keeping with its theme, "Building a Better Community, One Step at a Time," part of the proceeds from this year's walkathon will go to University Community Hospital's Diabetes & Endocrinology Institute. The 3-mile Walkathon attracted people of all ages. Lorna Miller and Dr. Saji Koshy from University Community Hospital thanked everyone at the event. The Walkathon kickoff ceremony started with introductions of various dignitaries, including Dr. Dipak Shah as well as sponsors of the event. Shah brought a goodwill message on behalf of Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, who had supported the event, but couldn't attend in person. Speaking on behalf of the associated beneficiary UCH, Koshy thanked BAPS Charities for being "health conscious about the community." For information on BAPS Charities and its international and local philanthropic activities, visit

Story provided by Ashok Bazaz

During 2007, the Florida Cricket Association (FCA) of Jacksonville held a cricket tournament as a fundraiser for the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation. Eight teams participated in the tournament themed, "Illiteracy eradication, back home-India." On Jan. 5, at the Hindu Society of Northeast Florida, the winning team, runners-up and individual team members were presented with trophies.

Along with providing the enjoyment of the game, the tournament provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the Ekal movement among the team members and spectators. Through this association, members of the Jacksonville community became involved with the Ekal Movement to eradicate illiteracy in rural and tribal India.

As a result of the tournament, five Ekal schools were sponsored. The members of FCA hope to continue the success of its tournament this year, hopefully with an even larger number of teams participating. In the year 2006, FCA has sponsored 10 schools in Jammu and Kashmir.

For information on how you can contribute to the Ekal movement, outside of the FCA tournament, visit

Story provided by ASHOK BAZAZ

About 100 people attended the sixth Ekal Sur Sangeet concert organized by the Ekal Vidyalaya Jacksonville chapter Jan. 12 at the University of North Florida in collaboration with the UNF’s Department of Fine Arts and Music.

Vaijayanthi Gopinath, a student of Lakshmi Shankar of the Patiala Gharana, a vocalist of Jacksonville with an Uttar Hindustani music base, made an everlasting impression. She was accompanied on tabla by Dr. Tanmay Lele of Gainesville and Venkatesh Iyer Srinivasan, an accomplished, devoted music lover, on harmonium.

The event sought not only to reinforce the message and import of Ekal movement but also provided an opportunity to local artists to showcase their talent.

A significant number of attendees responded to the appeal to sponsor one or more schools at $365 per year or a dollar a day per school.

For information on Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA, visit

Story provided by HSS

The Tampa Shakha of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh observed Makar Sankranti Utsav on Jan. 12 at Sanatan Mandir. The event began at 7 a.m. and continued for 14 hours.

To commence the nationwide Surya Namaskar Yagna, a unique 12-hour Surya Namaskar Marathon was performed in Tampa. Its purpose was to give everyone a chance to learn about Surya Namaskar, its benefits and to participate in the exercises. The marathon, which began at 7 a.m., had 65 participants. A total of 4,678 Surya Namaskars were performed, including 338 each by 10-year-old Deena Singh and 15-year-old Akash Belsare, and 325 by Joel Brown. More than 10 participants completed over 200 repetitions each.

Among the participants were dignitaries from the Tampa Bay area such as Chandresh Saraiya (president of Ekal Vidyalaya in Florida) and his family, Pawan Rattan (president of Sanatan Mandir), Chandrakant Patel, Malik Nandyala, Nainan Desai, Dr. Deviyani Desai and Ram Jakhotia. Houston-based Arun Kankani, national organizing secretary of HSS, also was present.

In the evening, Makar Sankrant was celebrated with Sangha geet, informative presentation of the religious, astrological, social and cultural significance of the festival, as well as prayer.

Krish Seetharaman

The Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville celebrated Makar Sankrant on Jan. 15. In the morning, a special Abhishek was held for Lord Ganesha, the presiding deity of the temple. In the evening, as is traditional in the temple, Ayyapa Swami Makar Jyothi Puja was performed in a grand manner. Candles were lit on all the 18 steps of the platform constructed by a devotee, which is the traditional way of worshipping Ayyapa Swami. As part of the puja, devotees sang bhajans of Lord Ayyapa, which was enjoyed greatly by more than 200 devotees.


The whole world is going through a unique kind of neurosis, which was not present in the past. One of the major causes is simply because modern man has stopped using his body to a large extent. In the past, when you intensely involved yourself in physical activity, a lot of your neurosis was worked out. Your nervous energy got spent. I know many people, especially young people, who had psychological problems. They started a physical activity such as swimming or playing some sport daily and everything became OK; because of enough activity, the energy was expended.

Today, man has become physically inactive like never before – he could not afford to be so physically inactive before, he had to do so many things physically, just to survive. So, he has become more neurotic than in the past. As a general phenomenon, there were neurotic people then also, but not in these numbers. Today, it has become a common phenomenon in society that too many are in some level of neurosis. This is simply because your energy is not worked out; it’s trapped. You have not transcended your madness and, at the same time, you’re not working it out. The therapy also is not there. If you went out and chopped wood for the whole day a lot of your energy would be spent, and life would be peaceful; but today it’s not like that. You are not using your body the way it used to be used; so, you go on generating all kinds of diseases like never before.

This builds up into your system over a period of time. Then your physical and emotional energy need some outlet. That is how your bars, clubs and discotheques have come into place. People have to work out their neurosis somewhere, somehow. These discos look like madness, you can’t even breathe inside. They are full of smoke and sweat but people are just going wild. You can’t even dance, everybody is bumping into everybody else, but it doesn’t matter, you have to work it out, otherwise you will go crazy. So on Saturday, you go work out your neurosis for the week. Then the piling up starts once more and once again the Saturday night fever comes.

There is another way to drop this madness and go ahead. Completely leaving it behind and going ahead where you are no more a part of it. This is what meditation is all about. Now, if you dance, you simply dance for the joy of it, and not because there is something to work out. If you’re dancing to work out something, maybe it is therapeutic. It is good therapy all right, but there is a certain ugliness about it. It is lusty; you cannot dance out of love. You can only dance out of lust.

Do you know the difference between love and lust? Lust is a strong need, love is not a need. When you love, you settle down, nothing more is needed. You can just sit here for a lifetime. With lust, you can’t sit anywhere, you either get into some mad action, or you are bound to go crazy. When there is a certain neurosis, certain madness within yourself, you can only be in lust. Your lust can be for sex, food or for some particular activity or some hobby, it doesn’t matter what it is, but you develop lust for something. Without that lust, you cannot live. Even your work is an effective way of throwing out your lust. It’s just that it is the most popular and accepted way in the world. Today, people just go on working, working and working. Not because they are creating something fantastic, but simply because they have to work; otherwise, they don’t know what to do with themselves.

You have to guard that madness cautiously. Nobody ever knows that you have this within yourself and you yourself would like to forget it. You do everything possible to forget it. All the entertainment in the world has come just to hide your madness. If you were perfectly sane, you would not need entertainment. You need entertainment just to cover your madness. If we take away your entertainment, you will go crazy. Man needs entertainment simply to hide his madness. If he was perfectly sane, he would not need entertainment. He could just sit and watch this bamboo grow. If the need for entertainment is gone in you, then you will become available to the magnificent exuberance of life. Every moment becomes a phenomenon of immeasurable depth.

Sadhguru, founder of Isha Foundation and one of the foremost authorities on the ancient science of yoga, has expounded inner well-being through the yogic technique of Inner Engineering to millions of people across the world. For more information, click on



Stretching is not exercise. Stretching is a sort of pre-lesson to get your body ready for exercise. Stretching is just about the simplest of all physical activities. It is a mild, gentle, painless activity. Stretching only benefits if it’s done in right way and regularly. Regular stretching can result in:

Reducing muscle tension;
Improve circulation;
Reduce anxiety, stress and fatigue;
Improve mental alertness;
Decrease the risk of injury;
Make you work easier;
Tune your mind into your body;
Make you fell better.

There are basic ways to stretch. Start with easy breathing, relax, focus on muscles, and joints. While stretching, do not bounce, and do not pull any of the muscle or joint at point of pain.

Stretch until you feel a slight mild tension and hold for 5-10 seconds. Relax. As you hold the stretch, the feeling of tension should diminish. If it doesn’t, ease off slightly into a more comfortable stretch. The easy stretch maintains flexibility, loosens muscles and tight tendons, and reduces muscle tension. This is the great way to start the day. It fills the body with natural energy.

Repeat the stretching activities in a same fashion for two to three weeks. Then, increase each activity duration by another 5 to 10 seconds.

Simple and important tips for stretching:

Always stretch within your comfortable limits, never to the point of pain.
Breathe slowly, rhythmically and under control. Do not hold your breath.
Take your time. The long-sustained, mild stretch reduces unwanted muscle tension and tightness.
Do not compare yourself with others. We are all different. Comparisons may lead to overstretching.
If you are stretching correctly, the stretch feeling should slightly subside as you hold the stretch.
Any stretch that grows in intensity or becomes painful means you are overstretching — the drastic stretch.

Achut Mashruwala of Fitness Guru Inc. can be reached at (813) 857-5103 or e-mail


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


The accolades continue to be heaped on Udipi Café in the Longwood/Orlando area. After we wrote about the authentic South Indian vegetarian eatery in our last issue, the Orlando Sentinel picked Udipi at 1275 S. Highway 17-92, (407) 696-7775, as the Best Indian restaurant in an annual listing of the area’s finest. The reader’s choice award went to Passage to India, 5532 International Drive, (407) 351-3456.


Speaking of authentic South Indian cuisine, how can one forget Woodlands in Lauderhill (Fort Lauderdale area)? In a recent review, the Miami Herald raved about its food. “The 110-seat restaurant is bright and clean, with strands of woodsy greens across each wall and friendly service …” wrote Rochelle Koff. “Dosais – paper-thin, crepe-like creations, made from lentil and rice flour – are a staple. They look like giant cones and are delicious alone or with a filling like ginger-scented potatoes and onions. Dip into ground coconut chutney and sambhar, a pleasantly hot lentil and vegetable soup.”

At 4816 N. University Drive, Lauderhill, Woodlands is open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 10 p.m. daily. For information, call (954) 749-3221.

And if you are in the Orlando area, check out the Woodlands at 6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail. It’s open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. For information, call (407) 854-3330 or click on

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