JUNE 2016
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News

Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay Celebrates Gujarat Gaurav Din

Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay celebrated the 56th Gujarat Gaurav Din May 1 at India Cultural Center with over 950 people in attendance. The day has been celebrated by the Tampa community since the foundation was laid by past GSTB president Himmatbhai Parekh. Dinesh Gandhi was Event Chair.

For the past nine years, at Gujarat Gaurav Din celebrations, “Mutthi Re Unchero Gujarati” award has been given mainly to a U.S. based Gujarati for outstanding contribution to the community to uplift the Gujarati language, culture and people. GSTB President Jigisha Desai announced Sonal Shah from Washington, D.C., as recipient of 2016 “Mutthi Re Unchero Gujarati” award to recognize her outstanding achievements and dedicated services for the state of Gujarat and proudly representing Gujarati people in the global community for her work during the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, with Indicorps recruiting young volunteers from all over the world to help NGOs in India, at the White House as Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, to name a few. Chief Guest Shah talked about being raised as a first-generation Indian and how her parents took her to Indian events to instill cultural pride and identity. She spoke on the importance of service and volunteerism in the community and encouraged everyone to do their part.

Special guest Rajesh Dhruva, Chartered Accountant, and Chief Executive of femaonline.com, spoke about tax rules and regulations that govern investment in India. The celebration included a traditional Kathiawadi dinner. Youth participated in a painting workshop, “Folk art of Gujarat,” conducted by Shyama's Art Studio. The award ceremony was followed by Gujarati Dayaro and Sugam Sangeet by GSTB Music Group artists. Organizers credit the event’s tremendous success to selfless services from countless volunteers.

ISHWAR NARAN OF DAYTONA BEACH Elected to Best Western Board of Directors

Ishwar NaranIshwar Naran, President and CEO of Premier Resorts and Management, has been elected to the Best Western® Hotel & Resorts Board of Directors. Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Best Western is a privately held hotel brand with a global network of about 4,100 hotels in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide. Naran has more than three decades of experience in the hospitality industry, having developed, acquired and managed over 30 hotels throughout his career.

Naran owns four Best Western properties – the Best Western Orlando East Inn & Suites in Orlando; Best Western Wesley Chapel in Wesley Chapel/Tampa Bay area; Best Western Daytona Inn Seabreeze in Daytona Beach; and the Best Western Plus Columbia North East in Columbia, S.C. He has been a member of Best Western for 16 years, serving on numerous advisory committees within the organization prior to being elected to the Board of Directors. Naran is a member of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Daytona Beach Shores Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, he is a current member and former Board of Director for the Hotel-Motel Association and was a former president and founder of the Indian Association of Greater Daytona Beach.

Naran earned his degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Birla Vishwakarma Mahavidyalaya in Gujarat.

For more information on Naran’s Premier Resorts, visit www.prmhotels.com

JYOTHI PRAVEEN OF DAYTONA BEACH IS health department employee of the year

DOH-Volusia County Administrator Patricia Boswell,
 left, congratulates Jyothi Praveen, who is the
department’s Employee of the Year.

Jyothi Praveen is the Florida Department of Health (DOH) in Volusia County’s 2015 Employee of the Year. Assigned to the epidemiology department, Praveen is known for her solid work ethic and empathetic attitude toward patient victims. She was presented the award at a recent employee in-service gathering in Daytona Beach.

“Jyothi has a wide-range of public health responsibilities,” said Patricia Boswell, DOH-Volusia’s administrator. “She works diligently to investigate the source of diseases. She coordinates a prevention program. She willingly accepts additional assignments, and she handles these tasks while exhibiting the caring nature that people expect from their public health department.”

In 2015, Praveen completed 107 disease investigations in six months and participated in a foodborne disease investigation at a local restaurant and a behavioral health facility. Her official title, government operations consultant, encompasses a wide-variety of tasks. For example, she coordinates the department’s Hepatitis B in Pregnant Women Program. To assist her team with an increased workload and ensure the health of the community is well protected, Praveen has assumed additional duties by investigating an average of seven animal bites each week – earning praise from local animal control staff, according to her award nomination.

Praveen began her DOH career in 2011 as a biological scientist with DOH-Highlands County. She was promoted to her current position with DOH-Volusia in 2013.


Acharaya Shree Rakeshprashad Maharaj of Swaminarayan Sampraday along with devoted saints will present a Satsang (on Srimad Bhagavatam’s Canto 10) from 5 to 8 p.m. June 24-26 at the Hindu Temple of Florida community hall in Tampa. The ninth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan in the International Shree Swaminarayan Sansthan of Vadtal (ISSSV) will also grace devotees on June 27 in Orlando.

Shree Swaminarayan sect’s core goal is to guide souls of the world toward the right path. The souls following its precepts will cleanse his/her soul and head toward moksha. Lord Swaminarayan has pledged to the souls who join and follow the preaching of the sect will indeed achieve happiness in this world and life beyond.

ISSSV aims to preserve and practice the cultural heritage of Sanatan Dharma in the Indian community and communities-at-large and exchange the ideas and ideals among religious institutions of various faiths.

For more information on the satsangs, call Sanjay Patel at (813) 846-1130.

Photos courtesy of SRBojja Photography


Several world-class musicians and dancers performed during the first annual daylong extravaganza May 21. Presented by Tampa’s Shruti Foundation and India Cultural Center, performers included Pandit Nayan Ghosh on both sitar and tabla, Ishaan Ghosh on tabla, vocalists Sangeeta Lahiri, Radharaman Kirtane and Lavanya Dinesh, Shankh Lahiri and Thiru Pant on tabla, Bharat Natyam dancer Tara Priyadarshani, Kuchipudi dancer Madhuri Gudla, and K.V. Mahabala on sitar.

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