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Republic Day Celebration In India

Several cities in the Sunshine State are making preparations to hold India’s 58th annual Republic Day celebrations. Here are just a few of them:

TAMPA: More than 36 Indian associations, under the umbrella of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of Tampa Bay, will participate in the Republic Day event Jan. 26 at Sickles High School, 7950 Gunn Highway in Tampa. The festivities will begin with lunch at noon, followed by an India Day Parade in cooperation with 200 members of the high school marching band. Local talent will present a cultural program from 3 to 5 p.m. with Bollywood music to follow.

For information, call Event Chair Satya Shaw at (813) 842-0345 or e-mail

ORLANDO: The Indian Amercan Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida (IACC -CFL) will commemorate India's Republic Day at 6 p.m. Jan. 27. It is free for IACC members; non-members pay $50.

The venue has yet to be decided but invited guests include Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty; Ajit Lalchandani, county administrator; and George Rodon, director of Economic Trade and Tourism Development. Also participating in the festivities are the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce of Jacksonville and Tampa; Indian Caribbean Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce.

For information, email IACC President Niroo Kamdar at

TALLAHASSEE: India Association of Tallahassee ( has tentatively set Jan. 26 to celebrate the Indian Republic Day with flag hoisting, patriotic songs and programs. During the celebrations, 60 copies of the books “India Unveiled” (text and photos by Robert Arnett) and “Finders Keepers?” (text by Robert Arnett and illustrations by Smita Turakhia) will be donated to Leon County schools and libraries. Arnett, county school officials and library officials with participate. Satish Kastury of Golder Associates, Tallahassee also will be felicitated. Afterward, there will be a member-only annual general body meeting.

For details, email Srinivas Kishore (, Subhasis Das (, Thayumana Somasundaram (, or the website: GAINESVILLE: The India Cultural & Education Center in Gainesville will hold Republic Day on Jan. 26 at the center, 1115 S.W. 13th St. ICEC Youth Group is planning the event.

For more information, call (352) 379-2911 or visit

Pallavi Patel

On Dec. 6, Gov. Charlie Crist made history by announcing that next spring Tampa’s Pallavi Patel will be inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. She will be the first Indian-American inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame, which is more than 16 years old. He also chose Justice Barbara Pariente and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in this year's induction.

All three will be inducted in March at a ceremony held in Tallahassee. Plaques featuring their photos and biographies will be permanently displayed on the walls of the Capitol's first-floor Rotunda.

“I feel greatly honored – I am proud to represent my home country, India, now the largest democracy in the world,” said Pallavi Patel in an exclusive interview with Khaas Baat. “I am proud to be part of the Hindu culture and its value system. Winning this award is a way of celebrating the progress we have made in our new home here in the USA. I certainly could not have gained this recognition without the teamwork and backing of my entire family. I hope more Indian-Americans will join our efforts to make a larger positive impact here at home and throughout the global community.”

The Florida Women's Hall of Fame was created in 1982 and made permanent in 1992. Each year, the Florida Commission on the Status of Women nominates 10 women for inclusion. The governor chooses up to three.

Patel is a board-certified pediatrician who was born and educated in India. She and her husband Kiran have become one of Tampa’s most well-known philanthropist couples, dedicated to improving the lives of Tampa Bay residents and communities abroad. They founded the Drs. Kiran C. and Pallavi Patel Foundation for Global Understanding, a not-for-profit organization focused on improving the human condition by providing programs and funding for health, education and the arts. They have established a modern 50-bed charity hospital in India; helped reconstruct four hospitals, four schools and a small village in Gujarat; donated $5 million to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center to fund a school for the performing arts; and provided funding for the construction of the USF Charter School for Underprivileged Children in Hillsborough County.

Today, Pallavi Patel serves as president of the Patel Foundation for Global Understanding. She also is a founder, trustee and administrator for the India Cultural Center in Tampa.

Aakash M. Patel has been a Khaas Baat contributor since 2005. He can be reached at


The first Hindu festival of the solar calendar year falls on Jan. 14. Makar Sankrant, which coincides with the Sun's northward journey (Uttarayan), will be celebrated throughout our state this month. In some cities, multiple celebrations are scheduled by different organizations, as you will read.

TAMPA: The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate More than Uttarayan (kite flying festival) on Jan. 13 at an undecided venue. The association will provide kites and thread, as well as food. For information, email Samaj President Dr. Harish Patel at or Parimal Butala at

Also, that same day in Tampa, the Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB) will observe the festival from noon to 5 p.m. at Royal Haynes Recreation Center, 1902 S. Village Ave. For information, write to or join MMTB mailing list at

And the Sri Ayyappa Society of Tampa has set Makara Sankaranti celebrations/Maha Ayyappa Pooja at 5 p.m., also on Jan 13. The venue is the Hindu Temple of Florida Hall, 5509 Lynn Road. The pooja will be followed by Chenda Melam and Sastha Preethi. For information, call Ravi Nair at (813) 920-8471 or Chittur Radhakrishnan at (352) 332-4907.

ORLANDO: The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will hold free Makar Sankrant festivities from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Chisholm Park, 4700 Chisholm Park Trail in St. Cloud. Kites and thread will be available for sale. There will be free food and the society directory will be distributed that day. For information, visit

Also, in the Central Florida area, the Orlando Marathi Mandal will celebrate the kite-flying day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at Barnett Park, Pavilion #4, 4801 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando. For more information, call (407) 333-2232 or (407) 345-5161.

MELBOURNE (SPACE COAST AREA): The Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will celebrate Makar Sankrant at Sandpoint Park in Titusville. For more information, visit

JACKSONVILLE: The Hindu Society of NE Florida in Jacksonville will have a Sankraanti Special Abhishek for Lord Ganesha from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 15. The temple is at 4968 Greenland Road, Jacksonville or call (904)-269-1155 or click on

Dr. Harish Patel of St. Petersburg.

Dr. Harish Patel of St. Petersburg took over as the 2008 president of the 700-member strong Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay.

The vice president will be Dr. C.J. Patel of Tampa. Associate Vice President is Jyotsna Patel, also of Tampa. Secretary is Smita Patel of Tampa and treasurer is Piyush Patel of Palm Harbor. Social Secretary is Parimal Butala of Tampa-Gibsonton.

For more information on the Samaj, visit


Jaxraaga, a non-profit organization promoting Indian classical music, organized a talent day for children Dec. 8 at Pablo Creek Public Library in Jacksonville. More than 40 children participated to exhibit their musical talents. It was a treat to watch the talented children sing as well as show their expertise in instruments such as keyboard, violin and Mridangam, both in Carnatic and Hindustani-style classical music.

Dev Sharma

More than 250 people attended the 20th anniversary celebrations Dec. 14 for the Hindu Society of Central Florida in Casselberry/Orlando area. Thanks were given the original sponsors, donors, supporters and volunteers of the temple since its inception in 1987.

From left: Suresh Gupta, Arvind Oberai, Kamlesh Shah, Mohan Saoji, Gopal Iyengar and Mahendra Kapadia.
Suresh Gupta, Arvin Oberai, Kamlesh Shah, Mohan Saoji, Gopal Iyengar and Dev Sharma recounted the hard work that was put in by all the people who helped raise funds to buy the land at 1994 E. Lake Drive.

The new temple was consecrated on June 19 2005. Also, an overview of the plans was given by Saoji, 2007 chairman of the Board of Trustees and Adi Nallamshety. New expansion plan include community hall renovation, additional parking spaces and new housing for temple priests.

The program started off with a light music program of devotional songs and bhajans sung by Pradip Jamnadas, Vivek and Kadambari Adesh, Veena Gohil, Gauri Aggarwal. Jamnadas also was the compere for the program.



Ardent readers of Khaas Baat will remember our review of the debuting Blue List from Lonely Planet ( in 2006. Well, we skipped a year and now have returned with a review of “Blue List, The Best in Travel 2008 ($22.95, 228 pages), a collection of trends, destinations and journeys. Our focus, of course, is on travel to India and there are numerous occasions when the native country takes the spotlight.

Mumbai is one of the cities of choice for the Blue List author. “Growing economic strength and an expanding middle class has seen the city become noted for its sleek shopping, gourmet dining and swanky bars as much for grand colonial architecture including Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (the old Victoria Terminus, now commonly referred to as CST), the University of Mumbai, the High Court and an array of bazaars and temples,” writes the Lonely Planet staff.

In the special feature on Travel Islam, the authors take a journey through the cultures and countries of the Islamic world. This includes a must-see list of the Lake Dal in Kashmir and Taj Mahal in Agra.

Among Blue List’s top five places to lose yourself, Mumbai makes the list. It was news to us but you can bring your own film festival to Puri beach, notes Blue List. “Each February since 2004 it has provided the sandy seats for the curiously named Bring Your Own Film Festival, an egalitarian gathering to which anybody, from anywhere, can submit a flick…”

Food wonderlands of the world include Chandni Chowk in New Delhi. The Ganges River and Golden Temple in Amritsar are among the world’s great spiritual sites, according to the book.

And on a parting note, which allow us to be slightly eccentric, is the listing of Strange Museums. Making the list is Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi. “Commodes, the john, the throne, dunnies, the porcelain bus … it’s all here and more, with numerous exhibits detailing toilet design all over the world, from squat-and-shit styles to more regal gold-plated numbers …”

We will leave the rest to your imagination!


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



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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