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Come Saturday, Nov. 12, all roads will lead to Tampa.

Whether you are in Orlando, Gainesville, Bradenton/Sarasota, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, Ocala or Lakeland, Tampa beckons. More specifically, the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay ( welcomes you to its 18th annual India Festival at the University of South Florida Sun Dome.

“We are expecting about 8,000 people to attend the daylong celebrations,” said Chandravadan Patel, festival chairman.

About 55 vendor stalls offering Indian food, jewelry, clothing, old and new Indian film DVDs and videotapes, arts and crafts and henna, will be set up on the dome’s upper level. On the lower level stage, performers will be decked out in traditional attire for various categories of dance competitions, including raas, garba, folk dance and classical.

Closed-circuit TV monitors will be placed around the Sun Dome so people can shop and eat while watching the dances.

This year, special guest for the India Festival will be Tampa City Councilwoman Rose Ferlita, said Patel. “Also on the invited guest list is Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair and a representative from the INS department,” he said.

The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay held its Navratri Garba on Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14-15 at Florida State Fairgrounds and Oct. 9 and Oct. 16 at India Cultural Center in Tampa. Lalit Sodha and Babra groups performed for the thousands of attendees during the two weekends. The next major Samaj event is the 18th annual India Festival.
INDIA FESTIVAL DATE: Saturday, Nov. 12

TIME: From 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

PLACE: University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa

PRICE: Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12

INFORMATION: Call Kanti Bakarania at (813) 653-4981 or Parimal Butala at (813) 237-1186.



The Hindu Students Council at the University of South Florida (HSC-USF) organized the Katrina fundraiser on Sept. 30 in Tampa.
Story provided by HSC-USF

More than 400 people attended a fundraising event Sept. 30 at the India Cultural Center to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. Organized by the Hindu Students Council at the University of South Florida (HSC-USF), the Garba/Raas/Bhangra event raised more than $3,000.

The event was made possible by the Federation of Indian Associations, Hindu Temple of Florida and Hindu University of America. Chandresh Saraiya of Ekal Vidyalaya, Abhinav Dwivedi of Hindu University of America, and Vishaal Gupta, Southeast regional coordinator of HSC National, each spoke a few words of inspiration. HSC-USF president Shraddha Belsare also briefed the audience on the goals of her student organization.

The HSC-USF Katrina Relief Garba/Raas/Bhangra -- officially the first night of Navratri celebration in Tampa -- provided a fun shopping opportunity for food, dandiya, clothing, DVDs and CDs. This was accompanied by live music provided by Chicago’s Melody of Dreams.

The HSC-USF team consisted of Shraddha Belsare, Rahul Agarwal, Anandi Bhusry, Joel Brown, Kalpesh Chotai, Shuchi Dwivedi, Paulomi Parmar, Pooja Pandya, Sadiya Sassine, Anushi Obeysekera, Neha Pandit, Prachi Kulahalli and Ojas Rawal.

“The Kumars at No. 42” are arriving on Nov. 8 in the U.S.

The Kumars are coming to town.

Make that into your family and living rooms.

One of BBC America’s top three shows since it premiered in August 2004, “The Kumars at No. 42” features a “typical” Indian family living in the north of London.

The four have hit upon a unique method of “Keeping up with the Joneses” by transforming their backyard into a state-of-the-art TV studio from where they host their very own talk show.

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From right: Mahajabeen Shaik holds her daughter, Rumaisa, and father Mohammed Abdul Rahman holds twin sister Hiba. The photo was taken on the twins’ first birthday at Loyola University Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Oscar H. Izquierdo, Loyola University Health System

The world’s tiniest baby at birth – of Indian origin -- recently turned a year old.

Rumaisa Rahman weighed just 8.6 ounces when she was born on September 19, 2004, at the Loyola University Health Center in Illinois. And she was only 10 inches long at 25 weeks and six days of gestation. Rumaisa’s twin sister, Hiba, weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces, and was about 12 inches at the time of her birth.

The parents Mohammed Abdul Rahman and Mahajabeen Shaik of the Chicago area are ecstatic about their two daughters. “I am extremely happy and proud that Rumaisa and Hiba – both born so little and so premature – are doing good and on the right track,” said father Rahman, who has been living in the U.S. for a year since he and his wife moved here from Hyderabad, India.

The 32-year-old says that the couple treats their two girls like normal babies. After their first birthday, Rumaisa weighs 14 pounds and is 2 feet tall. Hiba is nearly 18 inches and 27 inches tall.

Rumaisa broke the previous record of 9.9 ounces at 9.9 inches long, 26 weeks and six days of gestation, also born at Loyola 15 years ago.  



Muslims have two major celebrations in the year. Both are called Eid (meaning celebration). Eid Al-Fitr, or the Celebration of Breaking Fast, marks the end of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a month of fasting, every day from dawn until sunset. The Islamic Calendar follows the moon and so each year; the dates are shifted forward by about 11 days. In the normal calendar. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim year.

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The Vedanta Congress at the Hindu University of America in Orlando was well-attended.

Philosophers from around the world gathered October 13-15 in Orlando for the 16th Vedanta Congress sponsored by the Hindu University of America. This was the first time the conference on Vedanta Philosophy was held outside of its traditional setting in Oxford, Ohio. Not to be deterred by recent hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the presenters from the U.S., Canada, India, Guam, South Africa and Europe provided a diversity of presentations and papers during the three-day event.
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The INDOUS Chamber of Commerce held the Banyan Ball on Sept. 24.

The Tampa Bay INDOUS Chamber of Commerce held its fifth annual social event on Sept. 24 at the Museum of Science & Industry. More than 300 people attended the Banyan Ball, so-named for the national Indian tree.

Special guests included Tampa City Council members Gwen Miller, Les Miller and Rose Ferlita. The guest speaker was Prakash Khatri, ombudsman for the Citizenship & Immigration Services at the Department of Homeland Security.

The INDOUS Chamber presented Friends of INDOUS Award to Dr. Kiran Patel. The Outstanding Community Service award went to Dr. Pawan Rattan, who was pivotal in the organization’s origins about six years ago.

The Outstanding Leadership honor was given to Anita Shembekar. Past chamber president Ram Ramcharran received the Outstanding Service award as did Sagar Dalal. Spirit Awards were given to Param Bhullar and Kavita Marballi and Arun Marballi.

For information on the chamber, click on

INDOUS seeks donors for Thanksgiving Day dinners

Last year, INDOUS Chamber of Commerce in Tampa sponsored Thanksgiving Day dinners for 50 needy families in eastern Hillsborough County. “This year, we want to reach out to at least 75 families,” said chamber volunteer Kavita Marballi. “We are urging all members to come forth and sponsor at least one family for $25.”

Please mail check payable to INDOUS by Nov. 10. The address is INDOUS – P.O. Box 20232, Tampa, FL. 33622-0232. For information, call Kavita Marballi at (813) 767-3538 or click on

NOV. 9: BUSINESS MEETING, 6:30 p.m. Best Western Hotel, Westshore; free with complimentary dinner; organized by the INDOUS Chamber of Commerce, speaker is James Nichols, CEO of Nichols Insurance; for more information, call (813) 282-3600 or click on


Dancing is an intrinsic part of all festive occasions in India. It has been the primeval expression of joy and wonder. All forms of art in India have a sacred origin and the inner experience of the soul finds its highest expression in music and dance. Indian dance forms as practiced today have captured global attention sensing the Indianness all over the world.

India offers a number of classical dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. The most famous classical forms are BHARAT NATYAM from Tamil Nadu, KATHAKALI AND MOHINIATTAM from Kerala, ODISSI from Orissa, KATHAK form Uttar Pradesh, KUCHIPUDI from Andhra Pradesh and MANIPURI from Manipur.

BHARAT NATYAM: This dance form, which originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu, was originally performed by the Devadasis in the olden days. The dancing girls of the temples (Devadasis) had a mission: to take art to the people and convey a message to the masses in the sacred and sanctified environment of the temple. The distinguishing feature of this dance are the noble, almost geometrical angularity of movements, forceful footwork and the art of Abhinaya (facial _expression).

KATHAKALI: This is one of the major dance drama styles originated from Kerala. The technique of this dance are extremely complicated and the dancers, mainly men, execute rapid spins, leaps and freezes with split second timings. A traditional Kathakali performance lasts all night long and tells stories of heroes and heroines, Gods and demons from the Indian epics.

MOHINIATTAM: Mohiniattam or dance of the enchantress also originated from Kerala. This dance has wide and swing movements of the body and is more sensuous in style.

ODISSI: A highly sensuous and lyrical form of dance originated from Orrissa in eastern India. The main features of this dance are its postures and sculpture-like positions, closely relating to the sculptures of the famous temples of Orissa, namely the Konark Sun Temple and the Jaganath temple of Puri.

KATHAK: This dance originated from the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh by Kathakars or storytellers. The Mogul rulers took this dance from the temples to the courts or durbars and thus this is the only dance where there is a fusion of the Hindu and the Muslim culture. Its distinctive feature is its brilliant footwork and even motion in rapid tempo accompanied by the tabla or Pakhwaj.

KUCHIPUDI: This dance form is a blend of folk and classical styles and therefore its technique has greater freedom and fluidity. It is closely associated with Sanskrit theatrical tradition as a ballet form and originated from a village named Kuchipudi in Andhra Pradesh.

MANIPURI: Manipuri dance from the region of Manipur in northeastern India is mainly devotional. Lyrical grace, lightness of tread and delicacy of hand gestures sets this dance apart from the other classical dances. All these styles of dances whether originated from the temple walls or from the spontaneous movement around us create a constant awareness that life around us must be perceived. Our eyes must see, our ears must hear and our bodies must utter. This utterance must be the truth.

Jyothi Venkatachalam, director of Abhyasa School Of Dance, Club Tampa Palms, offers classes in Bharat Natyam, traditional folk dances, Indian percussion instruments (Mridangam, Dholak, Ghatam, Kanjira, Morsingh and Konakol). She can be reached at (813) 977-9039 or (813) 404-7899 or via e-mail at


Project Ahimsa co-founders Vijay Chattha (far left) and Tejas Patel (second from right) and his wife Bijal (far right) with event sponsor Fort Myers’ ASC Geosciences's Jay Saxena (second from left) and his wife Shilpa (center) at Project Ahimsa's fourth anniversary celebration and benefit event at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, on Sept. 17.

Project Ahimsa, a nationally recognized charity dedicated to a global effort to empower youth through music, raised $15,000 at an event celebrating its fourth anniversary and the launch of its Tampa Chapter on Sept. 17. A portion of the proceeds will help the Red Cross’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

The evening of music, art and hors d’oeuvres was held at the renowned Salvador Dali Museum, the permanent home of the world's most comprehensive collection of the celebrated Spanish artist's work, in St. Petersburg. The evening’s youngest entertainers were the Culture Kids, children who have been exposed to world music in Project Ahimsa’s programs at Tampa’s Renaissance Center for the Arts; they performed original songs written for the occasion. Project Ahimsa recently created summer world music programs at the Renaissance Center, an institution that provides music and arts education for children from under-served populations in Tampa.


The Culture Kids, children who have been exposed to world music in Project Ahimsa’s programs at Tampa’s Renaissance Center for the Arts, perform original songs they wrote for Project Ahimsa's fourth Anniversary Celebration and Benefit Event at the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg on Sept. 17.
Headlining the entertainment for the evening was Grammy award nominee Shankar, the distinguished violinist/vocalist who has collaborated with eminent performers like Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Frank Zappa and Zakir Hussain, and has sold 20 million records in the process. Performing with Shankar was the LA Drum Cartel, featuring percussionists Ravi Drums and Robin DiMaggio; the three performers delivered a spectacular sonic synthesis.

Earlier in the evening, Astha Singhal, a dancer with the Los Angeles-based Taal Dance Company, enthralled attendees with her superbly choreographed performance, and DJs T-UrbanGroove, Nihal Mehta and Vijay Chattha (blacKMahal) kept the capacity crowd on its feet throughout the night. In the gallery, the sweet sounds of the Renaissance Latin Jazz Ensemble resonated in the ears of guests as they toured the museum’s elaborate collection.

Artist Juan-Pablo Parra donated his work to the silent auction that was held during the evening.

The main sponsor of the event was Naidip Capital. Primary sponsors were ASC Geosciences, Orion Communities, Suarez Financial, and Unity One Title and Land Group.

“The official launch of Project Ahimsa in Florida was a huge success. Project Ahimsa is grateful for the wonderful exposure and support from the local community and plans on creating numerous unique music programs in the Tampa Bay Area and around the world,” said Project Ahimsa co-founder Tejas Patel. “The kids were so excited by the DJs use of turntables for scratching and mixing that we plan to set up an electronic music program in Tampa, which will teach kids how to use the computer, mix records, and become future Ahimsa performers.”

Project Ahimsa, a global effort to empower youth through music, was co-founded in 2001 by entrepreneurs Tejas Patel, based in Tampa, and Vijay Chattha and Nihal Mehta, based in San Francisco. Project Ahimsa (which means non-violence in Hindi) is dedicated to fostering unity and peace through arts exchange and education. For information, visit

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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Check out the recipes for Alubukhara wala Lauki Kofta. The combination of bottle gourd and dry plums (Alubukhara) sounds unfamiliar, but it does taste exceptional. The gravy of tomatoes and basil compliments the complex flavor of the croquettes. Read Story

Youth Highlights And Column
The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was first proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, in 1983. The paradigm proposes that the traditional view of intelligence, most often based on Intelligence Quotient (IQ), is too limiting. Instead, Gardner suggests that there are multiple types of intelligences that humans possess. The current MI model distinguishes nine specific intelligences.
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