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  10,000 expected at Tampa India Festival Nov. 11

On Saturday, Nov. 11, if you aren’t in Tampa, particularly in the vicinity of the University of South Florida Sun Dome, you are in the wrong place. No kidding! That’s when the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay, an association of more than 800 families, will hold its daylong 19th annual India Festival.

“We are expecting about 10,000 people to attend the festival,” says festival chairman Dr. Harish Patel. “We will have at least 80 vendor stalls selling Indian jewelry, clothing, film DVDs and CDs, arts and crafts, and of course plenty of food.” Delicacies will include samosas, bhel puri, chicken curry, dosas. To cool your palate, there also will be exotic, tropical-flavor ice cream.

On the lower level stage, performers will be decked out in traditional attire for four categories of dance competition – garba, raas, folk and bhangra.

Indian-American communities in such far places as Miami, Palm Beach, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala among others will be participating in more than three dozen competitions.

Throughout the Sun Dome, several closed-circuit TV monitors will be set up so people can shop and eat while watching the dances.

Also, a South Asian Bone Marrow Registry Drive will be held that day at the entrance to the Sun Dome. The goal is to increase South Asian representation in the National Marrow Donor Program Registry (NMDP). At present, South Asians (people from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Guyana, Nepal, Sri Lanka, East Africa) and other minorities are critically underrepresented in NMDP. The registry has five million registered donors but unfortunately only 1 percent of the donors registered are South Asians.

Only a cheek swab (to collect cheek cells from inside your mouth) will be collected. No blood sample is required to register nor is there any cost involved to register to become a donor. For more information, call Geetha Kamath at (727) 688-1851.

“In 2006, we want to particularly involve the youth and children,” says Patel, who revealed that about 80 kids ranging from ages 4 and older will be emceeing on stage during the dance and cultural activities

The India Festival will be held 2 to 10 p.m. Nov. 11 at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa. Tickets are $7 for adults; $4 for children 12 and younger. For information, call (727) 543-5599 or visit

AACSA Convention chairs Satya Shaw, left, and Chandrakant Patel, right, pose with Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist.

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the second annual Asian American Convenience Stores Association (AACSA) convention Dec. 2-3 in Tampa. The event at India Cultural Center will feature 70 booths offering information on financial, supplies, environmental, and clothing boutiques, among other services.

“This year, the theme is Partnership for Profit,” said Satya Shaw, AACSA chairman. “Our convention is designed to help companies maximize their business to the growing consumer market in the U.S.” The Asian American store ownership, believed to be the fastest growing minority group in the U.S., has a purchasing power of $80 billion.

AACSA’s kickoff event in July 2005 attracted about 750 attendees composed of retailers from across all channels and major consumer marketers and producers.

Satya Shaw
For 2006, AACSA is holding workshops and roundtable sessions to foster knowledge-sharing among attendees with concurrent sessions allowing attendees to pick and choose the topics important to them. “There will be an emphasis on best practices and new ideas to help retailers become skilled at serving the needs of the growing population and more product areas from food to general merchandise with topics of interest to all retail channels including convenience stores, drug stores and specialty retailers,” said Shaw.

The summit also offers face-to-face interaction between retailers and suppliers via a conference reception for major sponsors and retailer invitees in select private meetings with participating retailers and a robust product showcase exhibition room.

One of the highlights will be the presentation of the Asian Retail Excellence Award for accomplished store owners, a fashion show, beauty pageant and Bollywood entertainment.

Sponsorship packages, which include VIP reception with the retailer board of advisors, taking part in an appropriate session or panel, and showcasing market products, are available. For information on sponsorships, contact Shaw at (901) 550-2920 or email:

Attendees can register for the conference at The event is free for registered store owners. Non-store owners will be charged $25 per day, which includes lunch, dinner, fashion show and Bollywood entertainment. For information, contact Chandra Patel at (813) 340-5505 or Satya Shaw at 901-550-2920,

Story provided by ACA

“Ekaantha Seetha,” a dance extravaganza celebrating women of extraordinary courage and character, takes to the stage Nov. 17 in Tampa and Nov. 18 in Orlando. Presented by the Cleveland Cultural Alliance, the event has been organized in Florida by the Asian Cultural Association (ACA).

Eighteen performers of a dance troupe from India are presently touring the U.S. to present “Ekaantha Seetha,” which tells the stories of three women through the ages. In Indian mythology, Seetha (Sanskrit for furrow) was exiled by the misguided morality of an honorable husband and forced to deliver and raise her twin sons in a jungle hermitage. Raise them she did, as heroes whose valor exceeded that of their famed father.

In recent Indian history, the freedom struggle that culminated in independence from the British Raj in 1947 was launched by the determination of Princess Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi in the 1850s. Widows of the time either stepped into their husbands' funeral pyre or retreated into prayer. Lakshmi Bai instead chose to fight for the freedom of her people, and for the life of her infant son. She died a heroic death and is honored as the mother of India's freedom struggle.

Aparajitha is one among thousands of women of unheralded courage in today's India. Born in a stiflingly traditional rural community, she is fortunate to be led by an enlightened teacher, but fortune frowns on her in most other respects. Aparajitha, however, isn't one to be beaten by others. She too ploughs a lonely furrow, pushing against the rocks and boulders of unthinking tradition and leads her community toward a less constrained future.

The performance is choreographed by V.P. and Shanta Dhananjayan, India's leading choreographers, who are also traveling with the troupe and participating in the performance. The music has been composed by T.V. Gopalakrishnan.

The Nov. 17 Tampa event will be at 8 p.m. at Jefferson High School for International Studies, 4401 Cypress St. The Nov. 18 Orlando show will be at Olympia High School, 4301 Apopka Vineland Road. Tickets are $20 and $35.

For more information on the Tampa show, call Lakshmi Sastry at (813) 948-3590 or Anu Durai at (727) 787-1576. For information on the Orlando show, call Jasbir Mehta at (407) 333-3667 or Zeenat Madhany at (407) 876-4098 or click on

Story provided by BAPS

“Annakut” was offered to deities at the BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir in Tampa.
Oct. 22 heralded the start of the Hindu New Year as devotees thronged to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Tampa from midday to behold the beautifully adorned deities in the sanctum sanctorum. The first aarti, a traditional ritual involving a moving flame, of the New Year was performed at noon and thereafter on the hour each hour and extended until 9 p.m.

The "Annakut" – a breathtaking variety of hundreds of vegetarian dishes arranged in tiers – was the focal point of the celebration and were offered to all the deities in the mandir. The vast collection of food, snacks, sweets, pickles, spicy dishes, salads, fruit drinks and various other items prepared by the devotees added to the sparkling kaleidoscope of color.

Music maestro Pandit Jasraj, chief guest of honor, graced the assembly and gave an impromptu rendition demonstrating his classical vocal talents. Jasraj has been on a teaching assignment at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

"This is the time of the year where friendships are consolidated and past mistakes forgotten." added Rasesh Patel, a volunteer. "Symbolically, with the New Year, we all re-write wrongs and move forward with renewed vigor and enthusiasm."

An amazing grand fireworks display concluded the day’s celebrations.


Story provided by Gandhi Memorial Society

An 8-foot-high bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi was dedicated Oct. 1 at the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville under the name Project Nobleman.

Costs for the Project Nobleman were raised within Jacksonville. This dedication is to honor Gandhi on the 100th anniversary of the advent of “Passive Resistance,” which later on became popularly known as Satyagraha.

There has been a coincidence of birthdays between the Gandhi and UNF. Gandhi was born on Oct. 2, 1869 and UNF opened its vistas of learning and education to public on Oct. 2, 1972.

The un-veiling of the Gandhi statue was held in the presence of John A Delaney, president of UNF, university officials, Houston Indian Counsel S. M. Gavai, community leaders, invited guests, general public and the sculptor Jasu Ben Shilpi.

Popularly known as “Bronze woman of India,” Shilpi had specially come to Jacksonville from Ahmedabad to participate in the event.

UNF president Delaney said the university was grateful to the community for the wonderful gift. ‘I hope this statue would disseminate the message of peace, non-violence and social justice, both among students and members of the faculty,” he said.

Ramesh Vashi, chairman of Gandhi Memorial Society, said the sculpture would motivate a few students on the campus and those few, in turn, might be inspired to make the world better.

“It was dream come true for the members of the community in Jacksonville” said Dr, Satya Pachori, a retired professor from the university who was associated with the project. He said the society hoped to focus entirely on the applied aspects of Gandhi’s philosophy of human values, truth, non-violence and peace.

Nalini Vinayak and Haiqiong Deng perform in Tallahassee.
Story provided by Srinivas Kishore

Nalini Vinayak, veteran sitarist and tabla player from India, and Haiqiong Deng, Zheng player from China, recently performed a “Stringing Echoes” recital in Tallahassee. The four compositions in the Hindustani classical style of music attracted music enthusiasts and professors, and students to the Opperman Music Hall at Florida State University. Though similar in looks, the two instruments are quite different. The sitar is a precursor to instruments such as the guitar and the mandolin, whereas the Zheng is related to the piano.
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The Tampa Bay Business Journal recently announced winners of its annual 2006 Health Care Heroes. Making the finalists’ list were Dr. Akshay Desai, president and CEO of Universal Health Care in St. Petersburg, and Dr. Vibhuti Singh, director of a division of cardiology at Bayfront Medical Center and a cardiologist at Suncoast Medical Clinic.

Desai, the journal noted, is an active member of the community. “Universal is a Medicare advantage organization providing services beyond the typical Medicare program to seniors throughout Florida and soon other states. The company support the health and well being of the senior community through programs such as Vitalife, which encourages and rewards physical fitness, medical maintenance and overall health,” wrote the Business Journal in its Oct. 6 issue commemorating the health care heroes.

Regarding Dr. Singh, the magazine wrote, “At Bayfront Medical Center, he is a director of cardiology and cardiac catheritization labs. He’s also involved with the American Heart Association Florida and Puerto Rico affiliate. He’s involved with the Florida Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and is president-elect of the Pinellas County Medical Association. He’s been active with those groups politically by helping lawmakers do the right thing for patients’ rights.”

Ekal Charity Cricket Cup 2006.
Story provided by Dilip Kothekar

The Jacksonville chapter of EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of USA in association with Florida Cricket Association (FCA) organized the Jacksonville EKAL Charity Cricket Tournament from Sept. 16 to Nov. 2. The event is coordinated by FCA executive committee to raise funds for the local chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya.

Eleven member clubs of FCA with players from all over the subcontinent participated in the tournament. The clubs are Chargers, Ekal, Hurricanes, Lions, Outsiders, Panthers, Scorpions, Southside, Starters and Strikers and Tigers. The teams played with each other in a league format initially and then went on to clash in semi finals and finals to lift the Ekal Charity Cricket Cup 2006. More than 130 players and their family members participated in the cricket excitement. In the process, they not only contributed toward the Ekal movement but also received the satisfaction of having contributed something significant for their homeland.

The underlying effort of this tournament is to seek the involvement and create awareness among the local people about the significance of Ekal movement. Ekal addresses the need for primary education in tribal villages and other remote areas. There are 18225 schools throughout India imparting literacy to 546,760 students. In fact, Ekal Vidyalaya has a presence in nearly every state of India. Its mission is to set up 100,000 one-teacher schools in the remote tribal villages by the year 2011.

For more information, click on



Legend has it that when the wandering minstrel Baiju sang in the court of emperor Akbar, even a stone melted. That when Mian Tansen sang the Deepak raag, lamps lit up on their own and that his raag Malhar brought showers. Indeed, these are hyperbolic stories meant to convey the power of music as well as the magical touch that a great musician can bring to it. Reality is that we still have amid us music, which can melt, if not stone, at least hearts. In India, the confluence of diverse musical genres has evolved into two main schools of music – the rich traditions of Hindustani and Karnatic.
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Last month, we outlined the importance for entrepreneurs growing their businesses in part because of acquisitions of other businesses or properties to conduct a thorough due diligence of the businesses under evaluation to ensure compliance with the employment and labor laws. For sure, while many believe “due diligence” applies primarily to financial records and accounting practices, the application of due diligence requires much more. Limiting review to merely financial matters could subject the owner (and potential acquirer or purchaser) to significant liabilities if certain legal obligations are not analyzed and accounted for as outlined below.
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By Nitish S. Rele

If it wasn’t for the persistence of publisher Alfred A. Knopf, the celebrated cookbook author and actor wouldn’t have penned her account of early days in “Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India.” Madhur Jaffrey admits showing an utter lack of interest in writing the book, which was released recently.

“My editor had been asking me to pen down my memoirs for the 10 years and I had turned down the offer,” says Jaffrey, in an exclusive interview from New York City, which is now home. “Finally, I agreed to write the book on the condition that it would be only about my childhood and not my adulthood years.”

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Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The birthday of the founder of the Sikh religion is being celebrated Nov. 5.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, known popularly as Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 at Talwandi also called Rai Bhoeki Talwandi, now known as Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in present-day Pakistan. This place is about 55 miles northwest of Lahore. His father, Mehta Kalu was a Patwari – an accountant of land revenue in the government. Guru's mother was Mata Tripta and he had one older sister, Bibi Nanki.
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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

Gateway to India restaurant in the Longwood area.
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. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at ORLANDO CITYBEAT REVIEWS GATEWAY TO INDIA

Our good old friend Himanshu Bhatt may not own the now-defunct Bombay Bistro in Longwood any more but it appears the newly named Gateway to India is in good hands. That’s according to the In a recent review, Bao Le-Huu wrote, “The robust and delightful chicken tikka masala ($13.95) was a luxurious stew of tender chicken cubes in a creamy tomato gravy. We ordered the dish spicy and they earn applause for taking us seriously … On the vegetarian side, palak panir ($12.95) was a savory dish of cubed farmer's cheese, whose mild flavor and applications are similar to tofu, served in a rich, saagwala-like spinach gravy … ”

Gateway to India holds a belly dance every Saturday night from 8 to 10. Indian classical music takes over every Friday and Sunday night from 5 to 10 and Saturday from 5 to 8.

All-you-can-eat executive lunch buffet ($7.95) is served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and a family lunch buffet ($9.95) is from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A grand dinner buffet is offered every Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m. for $14.95.

The restaurant at 790 E. State Road 434 in Longwood also does takeout, banquet and catering and serves wine, champagne and domestic and imported beer.

For more information, call Gateway to India at (407) 339-9996 or check out


“It is the lighter, spicier, healthier vegetarian cooking of southern India that is attracting our attention, especially here, where the climate, like that of southern India, is hot and humid,” wrote Deborah S. Hartz, Florida Sun-Sentinel food editor recently.

“The Udipi Café in Sunrise features many of the same foods from its namesake city, although it does serve onions and garlic … We asked the chefs if they would teach us the technique behind this tasty cuisine. By cooking alongside these men in their very hot kitchen, we learned that once you spend the time making the onion-and-tomato curry base, you can keep it in the refrigerator to quickly assemble the different curries.”

Udipi is at 2100 N. University Drive in Sunrise. For information, call (954) 748-5660.

And, of course in the Tampa Bay area, we have our own Udipi Café at 14422 N. Dale Mabry Highway. The pure vegetarian restaurant is open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday. It offers outdoor catering and Dosa parties.

For more information, call (813) 962-7300 or click on


If you are looking to watch J.P. Dutta’s “Umrao Jaan” (starting Nov. 3), Sooraj Barjatya’s “Vivah,” (Nov. 10) and Sanjay Gadhvi’s “Dhoom II” (Nov. 22) at theaters in the Tampa Bay and Deerfield area in South Florida, check out or call (813) 781-5888 for timings and schedule. For movies being shown in other cities such as Orlando, Melbourne, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tallahassee and Spring Hill among others, click on

Happy viewing!

Kal Penn leads the way in “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.” Photo by Mirca Modoi

There is no stopping Kal Penn who recently has been seen in such films as “Superman Returns,” “A Love Like Love” and “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.” The young Indian American actor can be seen Dec. 1 in MGM Studios’ new comedy “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj.” Penn reprises his role of Taj from the original film, 2002’s cult hit “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” who in this new adventure heads out on his own to a prestigious university in England to further his studies. Along the way, he adopts a group of misfits and shows the uptight student body how to party.

And of course, starting next year, Penn can be seen in Fox Searchlight’s Mira Nair-directed film “The Namesake” and on Fox Television’s action series “24.”

For more information, check out

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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Finance | Financial advice | Immigration | Special Needs | Accounting | Business | Labor Law | Asset Protection

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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

Children's Health
As the colder fall and winter months approach, the whole array of colds and allergies come into practice as a pediatrician. In this article, I would like to share some valuable information with most of the parents who have to deal with these common childhood illnesses.
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