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Florida News

Diwali Festival of Lights

Some Florida communities are still celebrating the festival of lights this month.


FORT LAUDERDALE: More than 10,000 people are expected to attend Diwali Festival of Lights from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at Broward County Convention Center, Exhibit halls A and B, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The event is organized annually by Indian Religious & Cultural Center (IRCC). Entry fee is $3. There will be 102 booths selling food, jewelry, clothes, henna, etc. A free health screening will be from noon to 4 p.m.

The daylong activities begin at noon with Indian Bollywood, folk, classical music and dance, and fashion show. The IRCC Children’s Show will be from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. followed by the chief guest introductions. From 7 to 9:30 p.m., there will be Diwali Dhamaka – nationwide invitational university bhangra, raas, garba and fusion dance competition, before the awards ceremony at 9:30.

“In addition to creating a ‘home away from home,’ Diwali Festival of Lights serves the underlying mission of keeping the rich culture and traditions of India alive by passing on the torch to the younger generation,” said Sanjay Gupta, IRCC president. For information, call Sanjay Gupta at (954) 461-4003, Rupal Shukla at (954) 967-8388 or visit

The Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold its Diwali Gala Saturday, Nov. 19, at the University of North Florida Arena, 11852 University of North Florida Drive. Seating and social hour begin at 3 p.m. with the show at 4. There will be food, dance and music. For details, call (904) 638-2918, e-mail or visit

The Orlando Marathi Mandal will hold Deepawali celebrations on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Hindu Society of Central Florida community hall (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry. For information, call (407) 767-2516, e-mail or visit

Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB) will celebrate Diwali on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Hindu Temple of Florida community hall, 5509 Lynn Road. If interested in participating in the cultural program, e-mail Sheila Kedar at For details, call (813) 597-3604, e-mail, Anirudha Joshi at or visit

The India Cultural and Education Center (ICEC) will hold a celebration of festivals of India on Nov. 19. A cultural program will be followed by the Diwali/Eid dinner. ICEC is at 1115 S.W. 13th St., Gainesville. For information, call Dr. Bhavani Sankar at (352) 374-4382, e-mail or visit

The Charotar Patidar Samaj will present its third annual Diwali Dinner and Dance from 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at The Trinkle Center, Hillsborough Community College, Plant City Campus, 1206 N. Park Blvd., Plant City. Entertainment will be provided by Amit Ganguly and group, Kolkata. Tickets are $25 per person. For information, call Jayesh Patel at (407) 460-2020, Kamal Patel at (863) 670-1045, visit or e-mail

The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Diwali and annual dinner from 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Melbourne Auditorium, 625 Hibiscus Blvd. For more information, visit


ICC SeniorsThe India Cultural Center (ICC) Seniors Get-to-gather group recently visited St. Augustine and Jacksonville. “We had two buses full with 114 seniors,” said organizer Ram Jakhotia.

During the two-day stay, the seniors took the trolley ride to see St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States. In the evening, they were treated to an entertainment program of ghazals, film songs, bhajans, jokes, etc. The next day, they were greeted by Jacksonville Seniors at the Hindu Society of North East Florida temple.

ICC is grateful to Naresh Kotwani of Comfort Suites Resort in St. Augustine and Nilesh Patel, owner of House of Spices in Tampa, for making their trip successful.

The seniors group meets the third Wednesday of each month at ICC, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call John Adhia at (813) 784-1132 or Ram Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172.


Tino Patel gives the 2010 IACC Community Service Award to
Dr. Shailaja Nadkarni of Chinmaya Mission as Sanjay Srinivasan looks on.

The Indian American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) of Central Florida’s Grand Annual Gala will be held on Nov. 19 in Orlando. The gala is a festive dinner, dance, musical entertainment and a casino experience. More than 250 representatives from local businesses, public services and the community will be in attendance, as well as the members and friends of IACC.

One of the goals is the annual awards given to recognize the efforts of the business people in various categories, including a Distinguished Community Service award. Nominations also are being accepted for three Business Awards for local established Indian American business owners. During that time, the company will have demonstrated staying power and positive response to adversity in a changing business environment; have had at least one internal practice or program of merit demonstrating innovation, sound business practices, visionary approach and dedication; shown exemplary success within their industry, and displayed a high level of community involvement.

The 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. will be at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Drive. Tickets are $65 for members and $85 for non- members. Corporate sponsor is Private Wealth Management of Lake Mary. For more information, visit, call Tino Patel at (407) 579-5050 or Sanjay Srinivasan at (407) 513-9800.


Within just two years of its inception, the India International Film Festival (IIFF) of Tampa Bay has attracted filmmakers from around the nation and media coverage across the globe. The three-day festival drew in 2,500 people in 2011. Of the 80 films submitted, the festival featured 27 films, including seven world premieres and four North American premieres. IIFF’s goal is to create a forum for local, national and international filmmakers to conceive, share and showcase ideas as related to India. The Indian film industry produces the largest number of films in the world. While IIFF pays homage to Bollywood, it focuses on independent films in a wide variety of genres as related to the Indian culture and society. IIFF is accepting submissions for the 2012 Film Festival, which will take place Feb. 17-19 at Channelside Cinemas.

IIFF TampaSubmission rules and guidelines:
All films should be produced from 2009 - 2011.
The length of the film can be up to 150 minutes (2.5 hours) 
Films may be in the genres of shorts, feature films, documentaries or music videos.
Films don’t necessarily need to have an Indian theme.
Films may be directed/produced by Indian or international film-makers.
Filmmakers may submit more than one entry (Each entry must be accompanied by the entry form)

Films should meet at least one of the following criteria:
1. Should be from or about the Indian subcontinent.
2. Should be related to India or Indian subculture in other parts of the world.
3. Should have prominent creative input or acting by artists of Indian origin.
Deadlines and fees:
Early Bird: Dec. 1 - $10
Round 1: Dec. 25 - $15
Round 2: Jan. 7, 2012 - $25

For information about submissions, visit For sponsorship information or media interviews, call Francis Vayalumkal at (813) 719-0303 or email

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