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  TAMPA, ORLANDO MAKAR SANKRANT CELEBRATIONS SET JAN. 15
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

Go fly a kite! It’s time to take this _expression a little seriously at least once a year, i.e., in January when the Makar Sankrant (kite flying) festival dawns upon us all. The festival traditionally coincides with the beginning of the Sun's northward journey (the Uttarayan) when it enters the sign of Makar (the Capricorn).

This year, both the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay and the Gujarati Samaj of Central Florida are holding Makar Sankrant celebrations on the same day – Sunday, Jan. 15 – but at two different locations, of course.

The Tampa festivities will begin at 11 a.m. at Rowlett Park, 2548 River Hills Drive. (near intersection of east River Hills Drive and Rowlett Park Road). Food will be provided by the Samaj.

For more information, call Parimal Butala at (813) 237-1186 or click on www.gujaratisamaj.org

The Central Florida Makar Sankrant will be held from about noon at Chisholm Park (4700 Chisholm Park Trail) in St. Cloud. For more information, call (407) 301-9843.
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INDIA REPUBLIC DAY TO BE CELEBRATED JAN. 29 IN TAMPA


By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

About 1,500 people are expected to attend India Republic Day celebrations on Jan. 29 at India Cultural Center in Tampa.

“For the first time, S.M. Gavai, the new consul general of India in Houston, will be visiting the Tampa Bay area,” said Shyam Mohapatra, president of Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay, organizer of the annual event. “We also hope to have several city, county and state officials attend the festivities.”

The program to commemorate the day on which the Indian Republic was founded and the Constitution adopted (on Jan. 26, 1950) will begin with a folk dance program by local performers at 2 p.m., followed by flag hoisting at 4:30. A variety cultural program and dinner have been scheduled thereafter. The event is free to the public.

For more information, call Shyam Mohapatra at (813) 907-9580 or click on www.fia-tampabay.com




TAMPA BAY RATH YATRA SET JAN. 8


By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

The Rath Yatra (India Festival of Chariots) is coming to the Tampa Bay area. For the first time ever, the Rath Yatra -- which originates in Jagannatha Puri in Orissa where it is still observed – has been planned Jan. 8 at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa.

“The purpose is to enhance global awareness of Lord Jagannatha and enrich Tampa Bay’s social and cultural spirit by making Rath Yatra a tradition,” said Shyam Mohapatra, chairman of the Tampa Bay Rath Yatra Association. “It will be a great day to celebrate unity in diversity through art, culture, music and feast, and start the New Year with the blessings of the Lord for Tampa Bay.”

Mohapatra estimates that about 5,000 people from all over West Central Florida, including Orlando, Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and other cities will attend the event. The rath (chariot) for the yatra (pilgrimage) will be built by the ISKCON Alachua temple.

Several floats from various associations will be a part of the Rath Yatra. Also, booths will be set up on the park. Local participants will present cultural programs on the stage. All attendees will be served a vegetarian meal.

Co-sponsored by the FIA (Federation of Indian Associations) Tampa Bay, the daylong event will be held from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, 700 N. Ashley Drive.

For more information, call Shyam Mohapatra at (813) 907-9580, e-mail smohapa1@tampabay.rr.com or click on www.tampabayrathyatra.org






The Kronos Quartet along with Asha Bhosle have been picked for a Grammy Award.
STRING QUARTET UPDATE: KRONOS/ASHA BHOSLE PICKED FOR GRAMMY
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

In August 2004, Khaas Baat wrote about the Kronos Quartet’s CD, "You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood" with Asha Bhosle. Now, that album has been picked for a Grammy Award in the Category 73 (best contemporary world music album).

Of the 12 tracks on the album, Bhosle has sung eight, including the ever-popular Dum Maro dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), Chura Liya hai, (Yaadon Ki Baraat), Piya Tu ab to aaja, (Caravan), Mera Kuchh Saaman, (Ijaazat), and two Bengali songs.
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KIRAN AHULIWALIA’S ALBUM PICKED IN TOP 20
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

Forget Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar for a change. The two half-sisters may be popular and well known in music circles but perhaps not enjoyable enough as Kiran Ahluwalia for Greg Kot.

The Chicago Tribune music critic picked the self-titled album by the Canadian singer as one of his top 20 music albums of 2005. “The native of India sings in a centuries-old style of romantic song known as ghazal, modernized into rapturous pop confections,” wrote Kot, while offering his reason for the 10-track album pick.
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A group of artistes under the banner RasaJhari presented the dance ballet “Neeharika” in Tallahassee and Jacksonville recently. RasaJhari is looking to perform in other Florida cities.
NEEHARIKA PERFORMS IN TALLAHASSEE, JACKSONVILLE
Story provided by Krish Seetharaman

India Association of Tallahassee sponsored a dance ballet "Neeharika" presented by a group of artistes under the banner of RasaJhari, on Oct. 2 in R.A Gray auditorium. The proceeds of the show were donated to Katrina Relief fund.

The theme of the dance ballet was appealing in that the wisp of a cloud "Neeharika" questions the all-knowing Sun, about the purpose of life. The ballet represents the five elements of nature, sky, earth, wind, fire and the water. All these elements are constant while the emotional entanglements are fleeting.

Neeharika learns that her attraction to the Moon is not love but that her companion in life to accomplish her purpose is the wind. These two together in the finale shower to give life to the earth beings.
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CENTER CARDIOLOGY DIRECTOR TO BE HONORED FEB. 11 THIS IS YOUR LIFE, DR. MUSUNURU
Story provided by CARES

On Feb. 11, 2006, CARES (Community Aging & Retirement Services, Inc.) will hold an annual Benefit Dinner and Toast at the Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor honoring Rao Musunuru, director of cardiology at the Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, for 25 years of service to the Pasco community.

In a modified “This is Your Life” format, participants will discover how the grandson of a farmer in India rose to national prominence in the medical and philanthropic communities in the United States.

Musunuru is the American Heart Association’s 2005 National Physician of the Year, the recipient of the American Heart Association’s 2005 President’s Award and the Florida Council on Aging 2005 Service to Seniors by a Volunteer Award.

Musunuru has organized 14 annual national cardiology seminars at the Westin Innisbrook Resort. He persuaded Christiaan Barnard, who performed the first heart transplant, and Michael DeBakey, who performed the first coronary heart bypass surgery, to come to Florida as keynote speakers for the seminars. More than 1,100 medical and health care professionals from all over the country are expected to attend the daylong 2006 Cardiac Conference on Feb. 11, which, also, will be held at the Westin Innisbrook Resort.

Kiran Musunuru, M.D., Ph.D. (Musunuru’s son), who grew up in Pasco County and is a clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School, will be a keynote speaker at the conference presenting “Snapshots of the Future: Cardiology in the Molecular Era.” Other speakers include Dr. Robert Eckel, the current national president of the American Heart Association.

CARES provides a wide range of services to seniors in West Central Florida, including a free medical clinic, custodial home care, adult day care and skilled Medicare services.

For information about sponsorship opportunities or tickets to the event, call (727) 862-9291, Ext. 224.




Albert Brooks, center, is director and writer of “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.”
BROOKS’ COMEDY HITS MOVIE THEATERS ON JAN. 20

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World? Well, you don’t have to go too far to find it. A hilarious movie by that name is coming Jan. 20 to a theater near you. Albert Brooks, who has written and directed the film, gets summoned by politician/actor Fred Dalton Thompson to come to Washington D.C. to help in a new diplomatic effort. His job? Spend a month in India and Pakistan, write a 500-page report, and tell the U.S. government what makes the Muslims laugh. While Brooks isn’t sure he’s the man for the job, the possibility of a Medal of Freedom proves irresistible and he accepts.


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CARING FOR YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS DEPENDENT
By DR. RAM P. RAMCHARRAN

Just imagine you have waited a life time for that precious child of yours just to find out that your bundle of joy will never have a normal life because of a disability. My family and I live that life and experience the emotion that goes along with having to care for a special needs child. The amount of stress and responsible that comes along with a special child is tremendous and at times can be exhausting but it also can be extremely rewarding because that is your special child and you love them unconditionally.  

Are you caring for a person with a disability or other special needs – a child, a spouse or a dependent parent? If so, you may be spending a lot of time learning about and dealing with health and financial issues.  

Although it’s probably been on your mind, you may not have had a chance to assess all of the financial implications that are involved. However, you’d like to make sure that the lifestyle and quality of care for your loved one currently receives continues in the future after you are gone from this earth – you need to start to plan for the future now if you have not done so.  

Stop wondering how long you can stretch your financial budget to the maximum or how your loved one will maintain the lifestyle they need if something should happen to you. I had to come to the realization that I had to make certain that all the process and procedures are in place should something happen to me or my spouse. You need to employ the help of a Special Care professional for assistance such as an estate attorney, financial planner and insurance companies to help execute a viable plan that will take advantage of the special need laws and not eliminate your child from receiving government assistance like Medicaid or SSI.  

Special Care professionals can help you make a difference in the quality of life for a person with a disability or other special needs and other family members – including yourself. Through Special Care programs, you will be able to:  

• Access vital information;  

• Meet certified specialists and professionals;  

• Find financial solutions for your loved ones.  

Having to face the reality of planning for my special needs son, I now have a sense of comfort that my child will be able to maintain the same or better quality of life after I am gone, simply because we took the time to investigate and plan for his future.  

If I could be of any assistance regarding dealing with any special needs concerns, I can be reached at (727) 460-2460 or at ramramcharran@hotmail.com  

 
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BUSINESS DIRECTORY
KHAAS BAAT ONLINE BUSINESS DIRECTORY
Starting in January 2006, Khaas Baat will introduce an online directory of business services on our web site at www.khaasbaat.com Contact us to place your business listing for six months or one year.

For details and rate information, call (813) 758-1786 or e-mail editor@khaasbaat.com


RELIANCE CONSULTING EXPANDS BUSINESS INTO UNITED KINGDOM
Story provided by Reliance Consulting

Reliance Consulting, LLC, an international tax, estate planning and business consulting firm, recently announced several successful outcomes resulting from the firm’s participation in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s ALIGN trade mission in November.

Reliance Consulting, LLC managing partners Amol Nirgudkar and R.G. Raju joined more than a dozen Tampa Bay business leaders on the trip to Manchester, England for the purpose of establishing business relations between the two regions.

“The ALIGN trade mission generated tremendous international business opportunity for Reliance Consulting,” said Nirgudkar. “There is a significant interest in the United Kingdom to invest in the United States, especially in the hot Florida real estate market. We met with several excellent prospects in Manchester and are now in the process of engaging them as clients. The results of the ALIGN trip exceeded our expectations and furthered our goal of expanding globally this year.”

Reliance Consulting assists investors from United Kingdom and other foreign countries in structuring ownership of worldwide assets and managing corporate entities based offshore and within U.S. jurisdictions. “Without proper planning and tax structures in place, foreign investors may be subject to highly punitive tax regime on their U.S.-based investments,” said Raju.

Reliance Consulting, LLC is an international tax and estate planning and business consulting firm based in Tampa. For information, visit www.reliancecpa.com on the Web.


FLORIDA NEWS: FROM THE CAPITOL


Damages to the Hindu Temple in Tallahassee are estimated at more than $750,000.
TALLAHASSEE TEMPLE FIRE NOT ARSON; CAUSE UNKNOWN
By AAKASH PATEL

Just days before Christmas, the Tallahassee Fire Department gave members of the Gujarat Samaj of Tallahassee a bag of mixed news: The fire that demolished the 17-year-old temple on the first night of Diwali was not caused by arson. However, Fire Marshall officials say that they will never know the cause of the fire.

"But we have ruled out any suspicious activity," stated Fire Marshall Capt. Jeff Merritt. "We know that the scene was secure prior to the fire, that the building was locked and secured."

Members of the Gujarat Samaj of Tallahassee are pleased that they can now move on to focus on rebuilding the fire. "With this news, we can start fundraising to rebuild the temple, said Dr.

Jitendra Padalia, a founding member of the Samaj. "We've formed two committees within the Samaj to begin the fundraising efforts, but we can still use some help."

Nikhil Joshi, a Tampa resident and member of the Hindu American Foundation board of directors, feels that other communities from all over will rally to make sure a new temple is built.

"We're saddened and disheartened that the community had to suffer such a huge loss," he said. "But we know the community and others around the country are helping to rebuild and make the temple larger and bigger and better."

The fire took place on the early morning of Nov. 3. There were no injuries. Damages are estimated at about $750,000. Thankfully, the insurance company settled quickly, but still left the Samaj about $200,000 short of what is needed to complete the new temple.

If anyone would like to help contribute to the rebuilding committee of the Gujarat Samaj of Tallahassee, call Dilip Shah, a fundraising committee member, at (850) 877-0805, or e-mail him at mysamaj@aol.com.


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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Send your questions and concerns


RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Running an internal medical practice just didn’t suffice for Asha Patel. The Michigan resident, disappointed with the lack of healthy and tasty curry sauces in the marketplace, has taken to running a small curry sauce business. The year-old Tasha Foods (www.tashafoods.com) produces three curry sauces: ginger garlic curry, cashew chicken curry and coconut seafood curry for $4.99 per 12.5 ounce bottle. Read Story

Youth Highlights And Column
How many of us have heard our child say, “I can’t do it.” Or, “It’s too hard” when faced with a new task? Parents often chalk these phrases up to a child’s being lazy, or a disinterest in the job at hand. This may be the case, but parents need to be careful to watch out that their child is not suffering from a decreased confidence or lowered self-esteem.
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