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Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert?
FLORIDA TO PARTICIPATE IN KAUN BANEGA RAMAYAN EXPERT
Story provided by Shraddha Belsare

Kaun Banega Ramayan Expert (KBRE) is back! After the competition's massive success in 2006, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) challenges youth from ages of 5 to 15 in their knowledge of the Ramayan once again. The KBRE (Who will come Ramayan expert) contest is aimed at increasing awareness of Ramayan among children in the United States. The stories from Ramayan are a simple yet effective way of keeping children in USA in touch with the Indian culture and heritage.

Apart from children, KBRE also is an effort to bring the community together. KBRE is designed and developed by the volunteers of Balagokulam across the nation. The syllabus, online quiz and other competitions in the contest are modified to suit various age groups. Children fall under groups according to their age - 5 to 6 in Group 1, 7 to 9 in Group 2, 10-12 in Group 3 and 13-15 in Group 4. The KBRE competition has two stages - an online quiz and an in-person examination. Those who pass the online quiz will be required to come to a testing site to complete the in-person exam. Multiple testing centers are set up in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and many more centers throughout south Florida to provide easy access to all participants.

The Florida region has cash awards available in all age groups for the top three contestants. The awards range from $501 for first prize to $101 for third prize. All participants will be recognized for their efforts.

The online quizzes and registration will remain open until the second week of May. Visit www.balagokulam.org/contest to register. The final exam will take place between May 18 to May 24. For information, call the following local representatives:

Tampa - Vijay Singh - (813) 920-7494

Orlando - Mehul Parekh - (407) 256-1186

Fort Lauderdale - Ashwini Desai - (954) 495-0449

Jacksonville - Jay Vashi - (904) 712-5167

Melbourne - Jayant Somani - (321) 960-4756

Lakeland - Nilesh Patel - (863) 853-9315.




Society for Education and Health Inc. recently hels a symposium on rural health care in Andhra.
ORLANDO TO HOLD FLORIDA TELUGU SAMBARALU ON MAY 31
Story provided by Telugu Association of Florida

About 2,000 people from all over Florida and out of state are expected to attend the Florida Telugu Sambaralu on Saturday, May 31 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Convention Center. The grand celebration is being organized by the Society for Education and Health Inc., in association with four major Telugu Associations from Florida.

Festivities will include a live orchestra concert by Mani Sharma and his troupe, performances by Florida artists, and youth activities. Prominent Telugu movie stars are expected to take part in the celebrations. Commercial exhibits, job fairs and volunteer recruiting activities also are planned.

Society for Education and Health Inc. is a nonprofit organization devoted to bridging the gap between the needy and charitable individuals and organizations in both India and the United States. Goals include improving general education and healthcare awareness in neglected areas of India and providing guidance on health, entrepreneurship for NRIs in the U.S. The society also serves as a platform to encourage and assist service projects.

There is a pressing need for health and education in India and other places. Also there is need for help in certain areas in U.S.; for instance, students in U.S. universities, health issues specific to Indians, guidance for young entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. On the other side, there is a need for transparent and inexpensive organizations to channel help.

Four Telugu associations, from Orlando, Tampa, South Florida and Jacksonville, have been organizing Telugu cultural and social activities for local communities. Joining hands with other Telugu associations in Florida will help bring bigger and better events and assist to further common interests.

Society for Health and Education is planning activities on different fronts. For example, counseling and support for students in securing admission, securing loans to support education, securing medical insurance; learn and lunch program with physicians at work place to enhance awareness among NRIs in North America; assist victims of domestic violence. In India, the society is planning to partner with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), and corporations to identify projects, help generate society level matching contributions, identify governmental, NGO and corporate matching contributions, recruit volunteers, monitor projects and report status through its Web site.

Program details and activities are available at www.UsayHi.com.


CRICKET TOURNEYS TO BEGIN IN MAY IN FORT LAUDERDALE


The all-new Central Broward Regional Park in Fort Lauderdale.

More than 35,000 spectators are expected to attend several high-profile cricket tournaments in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, starting with the Memorial Day weekend MAQ T20 International Cricket Tournament. All tournaments will be played at the Central Broward Regional Park, home to a new 5,000-seat, state-of-the-art cricket stadium.

Teams featuring all-stars from India, Pakistan, the West Indies and the World XI will compete in the 20/20 format tournament, a faster-paced version of cricket ideal for American fans. The festivities kick off with a lively opening ceremony by local South Florida marching bands, dance teams, legendary cricket players and international dignitaries. Fans can cheer and dance along with live music from reggae, soca, calypso and steel drum bands during Saturday and Sunday night matches.

The inaugural event is presented by the Cricket Council U.S.A. Inc., a professional cricket and sports management organization. Mahammad A. Qureshi is chairman and CEO of the cricket council.

For tickets or more information, call (561) 361-1700 or 1-877-322-8720 or visit www.cricketcouncilusa.com or e-mail info@cricketcouncilusa.com.

Schedule:

* MAQ T20 International Cricket Tournament
Memorial Day Weekend - May 23-25

* FREEDOM T20 Cricket Tournament
Independence Day weekend - July 4-6

* AZADI CUP Cricket Tournament
Indo-Pak Independence Day Festival - Aug. 16

* US T20 International Cricket Tournament
Thanksgiving Weekend - Nov. 28-30.





DANCE TAKES CENTER STAGE AT INDIA NIGHT MAY 10 IN TAMPA
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

About 600 to 700 people are expected to attend the first India Night - Dances and Cuisines of India on Saturday, May 10 at the India Cultural Center in Tampa.

The program begins at 7 p.m. with a Social Mixer during which the regional best and authentic culinary art samplers will be served. At 8 p.m., Ragamala (www.ragamala.net) troupe from Minneapolis will present dance and music.

Several non-Indians already have booked tickets to the program. "We believe that Indian Americans in Tampa Bay are doing great in celebrating their individual regional cultural shows but are now ready to display unity," said Federation of India Associations President Dr. Krishan K. Batra. "We can now present our common glory and pride of our heritage through arts and culture to the mainstream of the wider community as well."

Each ticket will be $50 per person whereas sponsors/VIPs pay $100 per person. Corporations and companies can reserve a table of 10 for $1,000.

"We are encouraging people to bring their friends of different ethnic backgrounds particularly mainstream Americans, of course, because this will truly be the showcase of Indianness for all of us in the Tampa Bay community," said Batra. "The cultural show and the foods are tuned toward that theme as the spirit and mission of us all under the umbrella organization of FIA."

For tickets or more information, call Batra at (813) 963-9857 or Event Chair Dinesh Gandhi at (727) 858-4123.


CHINMAYA MISSION PRESENTS 'LIVELY ALIVENESS' LECTURE
Story provided by Chinmaya Mission

Chinmaya Mission of Tampa and the India Cultural Center will present a lecture series by Swami Chidatmananda May 26-29 at Lotus Hall in India Cultural Center.

The topic of the lectures, set from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., will be "Lively Aliveness."

Swami Chidatmananda is the current acharya (teacher in charge) of Chinmaya Mission Hyderabad and regional head of Andhra Pradesh. A law graduate of Osmania University, Swamiji completed the Vedanta Course in Mumbai and was initiated into Brahmacharya Deeksha in 1993 by Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji. In 1999, H.H Swami Tejomayanandaji (present spiritual head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide) initiated this talented Brahmachari into sanyas.

He expounds Bhagavad Gita and Vemana Padyamulu (poems by Yogi Vemana). Swamiji has conducted many jnana yajnas, including Vedanta (Upanishads), Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Apart from these activities, Swamiji has offered many sessions for government organizations, management schools and politicians in India with discussions on stress and mind management, self-management, ethics, and morals. Swamiji is acclaimed for his ability to unfold complex concepts from Upanishads with ease. He is fluent in English, Hindi and Telugu.

For more details, e-mail Tampa@Chinmayamission.org or Jivira@aol.com




Sunita Sharan is 2008 Physician of the Year
SUNITA SHARAN OF BRADENTON IS 2008 PHYSICIAN OF THE YEAR
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

Doctors Hospital of Sarasota recently picked Sunita Sharan as its 2008 Physician of the Year. A laser pelviscopic surgeon specializing in gynecological endocrinology, infertility and oncology, Saran was the only woman physician to be nominated among the top 10 M.D.'s in the past three years and the first Indian American woman in Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice. Saran earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from Darbhanga Medical College in India. She completed her internship at Detroit Memorial Hospital and residency at Detroit Macomb Hospital in Michigan. Saran has 35 years of experience in OB/GYN, in which she also is board certified.


COLUMN: MOTORING
SMALL IS BIG!
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com



Mini Cooper
High fuel prices bring you down? As gasoline reaches nearly $4 a gallon, car buyers are increasingly looking to downsize from their huge SUVs into compact and economical rides.

We chose four non-hybrid cars, which are priced reasonably, and earn laudable mileage figures from EPA. Enjoy the rides.

2008 MINI COOPER

The two-door, four-passenger coupe is equipped with a small but significant 1.6-liter inline-4 cylinder engine. Horsepower may be just 118 but EPA estimates the undersized car can get a miserly 32 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway with a 6-speed manual transmission. Kudos to BMW, Mini's parent company, for producing a 'mini' that is a blast to drive. Base price: about $18,050.



Nissan Altima
2008 NISSAN ALTIMA

OK, so it isn't exactly a puny car but guess what? It does boast fuel mileage figures that would be fitting a compact car. The four-door, five-passenger sedan ekes out 23 mpg in city and 31 mpg on the highway, according to EPA estimates. Under the hood sits a 2.5-liter inline-4 cylinder engine boasting 175 horsepower.

The seamless Continuous Variable Transmission contributes further toward its stingy fuel numbers. Finally, the Altima has plenty of room for five to sit in comfort. Base price: about $18,330.



Honda Civic

2008 HONDA CIVIC

The Japanese carmaker offers both: a hybrid and a non-hybrid Civic, which has a 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine touting 140 horsepower. Fuel figures are especially noteworthy, at 26 mpg in city and 34 mpg on the highway for a 5-speed manual transmission. The sporty Civic is an immensely popular car, especially among the youth. But with the recent hike in oil prices, expect the trendy ride to be a hot-seller among all age groups. Besides, it's backed the Honda label of dependability. Base price: about $15,010.



Toyota Corolla
2009 TOYOTA COROLLA

Close on the Civic's heels (or bumper in this case) is the ever-reliable and economical Corolla, which enjoys a tradition of 40 years … and counting! The completely redesigned four-door, five-passenger sedan comes with a 1.8-liter inline-4 cylinder engine that develops 132 horsepower. Mileage numbers are projected at 27 mpg in city and 35 mpg on the highway. The Corolla offers great value for the money. Base price: about $15,250.


HAF RETURNS TO TAMPA TO CELEBRATE FIFTH-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Story provided by HAF

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) recently celebrated its fifth-year anniversary in Tampa, a city that has supported HAF from its infancy. HAF, which held its first fundraiser in Tampa four years ago, wanted to return to its roots as a way to not only commemorate its successes, but also to showcase its plans for 2008 and beyond.

With about 100 individuals in attendance, the afternoon began with a welcome from Tampa-local Nikhil Joshi, member of HAF's Board of Directors, followed by a brief video encompassing the foundation's core values and strategic successes since its inception.

The main presentation, delivered jointly by Suhag Shukla, HAF's legal counsel, and Sheetal Shah, HAF's director of development, focused on upcoming endeavors such as the development of a Hindu Chaplaincy Program, the publication of the fourth annual Hindu human rights report, and the release of the first-ever caste report. Dr. Mihir Meghani, president of HAF, concluded the presentation with a resonating appeal for donations, reminding attendees that in order for HAF to effectively represent 2 million Hindu Americans, it needs support to add to its current full-time staff of three.

The foundation continues to be thankful to the Florida community at large for its consistent support over the years and hopes to return annually to Tampa.

Individuals who are interested in becoming involved with HAF at a local level should contact Nikhil Joshi at nikhil@HAFsite.org. Those who are interested in HAF's national work can e-mail Sheetal Shah at sheetal@HAFsite.org.


TAMPA, ORLANDO HOLDING HEALTH FAIRS
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

About 300-400 people and 50-100 physicians will participate in the 10th Community Health Fair Saturday, May 17 at the Hindu Temple Community Hall.

"The health fair has become a tradition since 1998 at the Hindu Temple of Florida and it is also one of the volunteer community service activities of the temple," said Dr. Renuka Ramappa, chief coordinator. "Physicians and volunteers alike work together at this event to bring free screenings and health information services to the public."

Medical services provided at the health fair include free screenings for blood sugar, cholesterol, vision and hearing evaluations, self breast exams, mammography information, dental examinations, obesity, pulmonary function testing, osteoporosis screening, stress screening, asthma and allergies, etc.

"One of the fair's highlights is that there is an opportunity for physicians and attendees to interact by asking field-related questions regarding nutrition and obesity, menopause syndrome, diabetes, stress management, osteoporosis, child health, bypass surgery, peptic ulcer, heart disease and more," said Ramappa.

The temple is at 5509 Lynn Road. For information, call (813) 962-6890 or visit www.hindutempleofflorida.org

Earlier in the month, on May 4, the Hindu Society of Central Florida in the Orlando area will hold a Community Health Fair. The event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, is being presented by the Central Florida Association of Physicians from India in association with Florida Hospital, Orlando Regional Hospital and Central Florida Regional Hospital. There will be free basic health checkup, health education lectures, screening services, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplant information, cultural programs and Indian food stalls. For more information, e-mail Dr. Aravind Pillai at dpillai605@aol.com or call the temple at (407) 699-5277.


JACKSONVILLE TEMPLE CELEBRATES 1ST ANNIVERSARY
Story provided by Krish Seetharaman

The Hindu Society of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville recently celebrated its first Sthaapana Anniversary over a three-day period. On the first day, the festivities began with Lord Sidhdhi Vinayak Abhishek, followed by Rudra (Shiv Linga) Abhishek. The next day, devotees enjoyed the Abhishek Puja of Lord Balaji.

The same evening, another special puja that attracted a huge participation was Samoohik Saraswathi Puja, performed by children under the guidance of the temple priest. More than 100 children participated and enjoyed the puja, which was followed by a children's cultural variety program.

On the third day, Lord Sidhdhi Vinayak Abhishek was performed. The Abhishek included pouring water from 25 sanctified Kalashas. All the Abhishek Pujas were performed amid Vedic chanting by the priest and volunteers.

Nearly 600 people attended a grand finale dance program by artists of Jacksonville, organized by Rasa Jhari. About 75 dancers from nine Indian states presented "Payal Ki Omkar."


SRIGANDHA KANNADA KOOTA UGADI CELEBRATION HELD IN TAMPA

More than 200 Kannadigas attended the New Year Ugadi on April 12 at the Hindu Temple of Florida Community Hall in Tampa.

Organized by Srigandha Kannada Koota, the event was marked by children chanting the Hanuman Chalisa, followed by a dance welcoming the New Year. The youth also performed a folk dance to celebrate the harvest festival.

In addition, there was a Bharat Natyam presentation. A fusion dance by a Sarasota group was well received by the audience. There was a dance to the tune of a popular patriotic Kannada song, adding color to the stage. The highlight of the evening was a Kannada comedy drama "Nanjunda Srinivasa," depicting the day-to-day life of Indian Americans.




TRADITION COMES ALIVE WITH CHAMPIONS TROPHY BOAT RACE MAY 24 IN TAMPA
Story provided by Francis Vayalumkal

The Tampa Bay Boating Association will host Tampa Bay Jalamela Saturday, May 24, in Tampa. In its first annual Champions Trophy Boat Race, dragon boats will be used to T celebrate the traditional snake boat races (vallamkali) of Kerala. Thirteen teams from all over Florida and neighboring states are expected to participate. The event is free to the public.

Kerala is known for the snake boat races, which are held in conjunction with Onam, the harvest festival in August/September. Usually, a snake boat is manned by four helmsmen, 25 singers and 100-125 oarsmen, who row in unison to the fast rhythm of the song of the boatmen.

The tradition remains close to the hearts of people from the Southern state in India. People who have moved to the United States from this area strive to keep their favorite water sport event and traditions alive in all possible ways. The closest they can get to this sport that's loved by people from all over the world is through the dragon boat races.

Tampa Bay Jalamela and the first annual Champions Trophy dragon boat race will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harney Canal Park on U.S. 301. (north of Sligh Avenue and U.S. 301 intersection). There will be separate competitions for men and women. The first prize is $1,500 and the ever-rolling Champions Trophy, which has been custom made in India. The second prize will be $750 and an ever-rolling trophy.

For information and sponsorship opportunities, call Vayalumkal at (813) 719-0303 or e-mail cevaya@gmail.com



COLUMN: OUT & ABOUT IN FLORIDA


OUT & ABOUT IN FLORIDA
By NITISH S. RELE - editor@khaasbaat.com

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 editor@khaasbaat.com

TAMPA TUN-DU-REE RESTAURANT HONORED Hats off to Pat Bhava of Tampa who recently was picked Entrepreneur of the Month by Indiaon.com Web site, a premium online community in which professional Indians in the United States can share advice, job tips, insights and news.

Tun-Du-Ree has two locations in Tampa: at South MacDill Avenue and Interbay Boulevard; and the other is at 4004 W. Neptune St. Bhava prides on the fact that all his entrees are priced at $6.99, which include yogurt, cucumber raita, veggies and either tandoori rice or a naan.

For information, call Bhava at (727) 678-1262 or visit www.tunduree.com.

BOMBAY MASALA IN FORT WALTON BEACH HIGHLIGHTED

Bombay Masala restaurant in Fort Walton Beach recently was reviewed by the Northwest Florida Daily News. “This family-owned business makes it fun for everyone to try some of India’s favorite food,” wrote reviewer Wendy Victoria. At 326 Eglin Parkway N.E., the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

For information, call (850) 862-0978.

And while on Bombay Masala, don’t forget the eatery by the same name in Tampa. Bombay Masala has been a part of the Tampa tradition for about 16 years now. Vijay Keni opened the 2,500-square-foot and 80-seater restaurant and since then there’s been no looking back for this Bombay native. “We offer mouth-watering, delicious and authentic Indian food,” he says with pride.

Bombay Masala is at 4023 W. Waters Ave. For information, call (813) 880-7511.

ST. PETERSBURG TIMES REVIEWS CLEARWATER’S RAGA

Raga Asian Indian Restaurant in Clearwater recently was reviewed by the St. Petersburg Times. “The restaurant has a spice corner in which they grind their own garam masala,” wrote reviewer Laura Reiley about the eatery owned by Madhu and Naresh Sharma, previous owners of Mahal Indian Cuisine.

“At lunch during the week, it’s a Northern Indian buffet, but on Sunday a grand buffet showcases the lesser-known vegetarian delights from Southern India. And at night it’s a la carte, with an interesting smattering of Chinese-inspired dishes. Raga boasts a full bar, a rarity in Indian restaurants.”

Raga is at 16080 U.S. 19 N., just north of East Bay Drive. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch buffet and 5 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and until 10 p.m. on weekends. For information, call (727) 531-6400 or visit www.ragaflorida.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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RECIPES
Check out the new recipes submitted by Khaasbaat readers from all over Tampa Bay. Also read features on new food businesses and books. Read Story



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