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Looking to sit and watch traditional Indian music and dance? Got the urge to shop for some new outfits and jewelry for Diwali? Craving for scrumptious Indian delicacies? Then Tampa should be your city of choice on Saturday, Oct. 27 as the daylong India Festival is held at the University of South Florida Sun Dome. Presenting the event is the India Festival Committee of Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay (GSTB). Spearheading the efforts are GSTB President Dinesh Gandhi and India Festival Chairperson Swapna Shah.

“After two decades, the festival has evolved into the biggest and best India Festival in Florida with excellent leadership and teamwork from its organizers,” said Shah. “It helps us to strengthen our ties within the community and propagate our cultural values to the minds of tomorrow.”

About 8,000 to 10,000 people are expected to attend the festivities at the Sun Dome as they do every year. Contestants and visitors come from all across the state, including Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami and even from the neighboring state of Georgia to enjoy this annual event.

India Festival Chairperson Swapna Shah
Attendees to the event will be transported to the sights and sounds that are India, including tasty food, traditional music and dance and of course shopping. One of the main attractions takes place on the main stage, which will feature a daylong competition of various dance forms such as garba, raas, folk dance, bhangra and classical.

For the first time this year, there will be a new event called Voice of Florida. This is a singing competition in collaboration with the Pandit Jasraj School of Music. Five contestants will be chosen through advance auditions to perform during the day. The winner will be announced in a grand finale at the end of the daylong program and will receive a round trip ticket to India, courtesy of Travel Kings.

More than 60 booths will be set up by various businesses, including boutiques with the latest in designer clothing collections, gold jewelry, costume jewelry, arts and handicrafts, henna artists and much more. In addition, there will be community service booths and a health fair sponsored by Florida Association of Physicians from India (FAPI).

As an added bonus this year, there will be a performance by special guest Raghav. This popular young singer is sure to wow the audience with his unique sound, which incorporates a myriad of musical styles including R&B, Asian, Bollywood and rap featuring lyrics in English and Hindi. He will be on hand to present awards at the end of the evening.

Some of the invited guests include Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

The India Festival will be held from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 E. Fowler Ave. in Tampa. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children under 12 years of age. For more information, call Swapna Shah at (813) 789-4142, Dinesh Gandhi at (727) 858-4123 or Smita Patel at (813) 926-1143 or e-mail Smita Patel at Also, get more details on

Information for this story was provided by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay.


It’s time to dust off those chaniya cholis and pull out the dandiyas from inside the closet! Navratri, the festival of nine nights, is here.

Here are some of the communities in Florida that are holding Dussehra/Navratri activities.


The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will hold Navratri celebrations at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 19-20 at the Entertainment Hall, Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N. It is free for Samaj members.

For more information, call Samaj President at Dinesh Gandhi at (727) 858-4123, Dr. Harish Patel at (727) 398-4030 or click on


The Gujarati Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Navratri on Oct. 12-13 and Oct. 19-20 at Dr. Phillips High School, 6500 Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. Navratri fee is $100 per family and $35 per person. Seniors over age 65 and children under 12 are free. Performers are Jankar Group by Varsha Enterprises and Raj and Smruti Pandya – Aapka Pasand Group (USA).

For more information, call (407) 291-7452 or check out


The Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) of Broward Country will kick off Navratri on Oct. 6 at Holiday Inn Express, SCCC, Cocoa. On Oct. 13, Navratri will be at Eau Gallie Civic Center, 1551 Highland Ave., Melbourne. On Oct. 20, it’s off to the Kiwanis Island Community Center, 951 Kiwanis Island Park Road, Merritt Island. The celebrations on all three days will be at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, click on


The Hindu Society of North East Florida will celebrate Navratri starting Oct. 12 until Vijaya Dashami and Dussehra on Oct. 21. During all these nights, from 7:30 onward, Raas Garba dance will be held on the temple premises at 4968 Greenland Road, Jacksonville. For information, call (904) 268-7630 or click on


The Indian Religious & Cultural Center, Leuva Patidar Samaj of South Florida and the Gujarati Samaj of South Florida will hold Navratri Oct. 13, 19 and 20 at Silver Trail Middle School, 18300 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines. The celebrations will be from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on all days.

For more information, call Poonam Wadhwa at (954) 423-2680 or Komal Shah at (954) 786-9997.


The Gujarati Samaj will hold Navratri from 7 p.m. to midnight Oct. 12-14 and Oct. 19-20 at Cypress Lake Middle School, 8901 Cypress Lake Drive, Fort Myers. Charge for non-members is $25 a day or $100 for the five days.

For more information, call Bhupendra Patel at (239) 334-2474, Chetan Patel at (239) 656-4000, Dilip Patel at (941) 661-0675 or Rajan Patel at (239) 936-0515.


The Gujarati Samaj of Gatorland in Gainesville will hold Navratri nights from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Oct. 12, 19 and 20 at India Cultural and Education Center (ICEC), 1115 S.W. 13th St. in Gainesville. There is no admission fee.

For more information, call Naina Patel at (352) 384-1594 or Manoj Patel at (352) 332-7070.

Story provided by ICS

For the first time in history, Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville along with the Jacksonville Bhangra Group and University of North Florida students are presenting a play "Ticket to Hollywood" on Oct. 27 inspired by the epic Ramayan. But it is a musical play – a story line followed by the sequence of Bollywood songs relevant to the story line presented in a modern way.

The event at Morocco Shrine Center, 3800 St. John’s Bluff Road will begin from 4 to 6 p.m. with performances by children and committee member introductions. After a brief snack break, a fashion show based on the theme Flames will be presented. “Ticket to Hollywood” will start at 7:30 p.m.

Family membership for ICS is $85. For more information or to become a member, click on



Louisiana gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal made a brief stop in St. Petersburg on Sept. 20, just one month before his election. Jindal, the only Indian-American in Congress, attended a fundraiser at the home of Dr. Akshay and Seema Desai in St. Petersburg. Also in attendance to give his endorsement was Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.

Congressman Jindal is considered to be the front runner in the Louisiana governor's race. Now 36 and making his second bid for the governorship, Jindal is hoping voters see him more as a hard-working team player. To date, Jindal's overall campaign contributions total more than $10 million with $105,000 being raised at Desai's fundraiser.

"I know how he feels just one month before an election," Gov. Crist told the audience in his introduction speech. "It's tough, but Bobby, you will be the next Governor of Louisiana.”

During Jindal's remarks, he thanked all 75 attendees and spoke about his election. If he gets 50 percent of the vote on Oct. 20, he wins the election, but anything less and a runoff will take place Nov. 17. "Florida is Louisiana's sister state, and we've dealt with a lot of the same issues." "I've got a 100 point plan that will benefit the citizens of Louisiana," said Jindal.

Those such as Desai who have watched Jindal's career believe that his years in Congress could serve him well if he gets elected governor. "Bobby is a young, dynamic, intelligent person," said Desai in an exclusive interview with Khaas Baat. "He is a problem-solver, believes in good governance, and his skill sets will benefit the citizens of Louisiana." Desai serves as a member of the Florida Board of Education.

Aakash M. Patel is secretary of the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and has been a Khaas Baat contributor since 2005. He can be reached at


Yogi Amrit Desai
For those of you who always wanted an initiation into authentic yoga and meditation, here is a golden opportunity. The world- renowned Yogi Amrit Desai is coming to town! Gurudev Shri Amritji, as he is popularly known, will conduct a weekend seminar/workshop on ‘Amrit Yoga’ his specially designed system, on Oct. 19-21, at the community hall of the Hindu Temple of Florida, 5509 Lynn Road, Tampa.

A few weeks ago. I visited the 74-year-old teacher and spiritualist at his serene Amrit Yoga Center on the shores of the Lake Kerr in the middle of Ocala national forest. “I have no illnesses and I don’t take any medications, thanks to yoga and meditation,” he said with a smile.

Amritji is well trained in Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga under the tutelage of Swami Shri Kripalvanandji (Kripalu) – perhaps the greatest Kundalini Masters of this century. He has won numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious Doctor of Yoga Science by the Sankaracharya order in India. According to Amritji, “We are always in a relentless pursuit of pleasures and avoidance of pain. This endless duality leads to stress for the mind and body, resulting in ill health and unhappiness.”

This yoga seminar/workshop offers the opportunity to explore and experience the profound depth of Yoga, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra from a world-renowned master.

For information on the seminar, contact M. P. R. Nathan at or Sherry Preston or call the Tampa temple at (813) 962-6890.


Achyut Mashruwala
If you have visited Ganesh Chaat Café on Armenia Avenue in Tampa, you would be familiar with Achyut Mashruwala. He and his wife, Sonal, are owners of the place.

Now, Achyut Mashruwala just earned his certificate as a newly certified Personal Fitness Trainer from ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association), which is the education institute accredited by National Board of Education. He is working at Bally Total Fitness Center on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.

Fitness is not new for Mashruwala whose father was a professional body builder. While in his early 20s, Mashruwala himself was a professional body builder also. “All the 18 years of my life in America, I have not let go my initial beliefs of being healthy,” he says. “I have continued with routine exercises and eating nutritional food on regular basis. At Ganesh Chaat Café, we serve healthy food to our customers and give them choice to eat right and healthy Indian vegetarian food.”

Although eating habits are important, exercises are vitally vital for healthy living, according to Mashruwala “Our lifestyle in America is becoming more luxurious and stressful, yet involves less physical activities,” he says. “I would like to offer our community a healthier lifestyle and help them to create the appropriate exercise for their body according to individual living style.”

Mashruwala is willing to train clients at a fitness studio location of their choice. For more information, call (813) 857-5103 or e-mail:

Story provided by Vandana Shelkar, Pehchaan, board member

On Sept. 9, Pehchaan presented a third workshop (of the ‘Stress’ series) on “Effects of Stress on Health” at the New Tampa Library. Participating in the open forum was keynote speaker Dr. Radhakrishna K. Rao, D.C.H., M.S., and panelists Dr. Nirmala Apte, M.D. and Dr. Swapna Mukherjea, M.D.

Apte explained the types of stress (good and bad stress, acute and chronic), their effects on health and the concept of connection between mind and body.

Mukherjea spoke about changes that can be exercised to reduce stress. She emphasized that stress can be controlled by behavioral changes such as diet, exercise, relaxation and meditation and change in way of thinking.

Rao talked about connection between sleep and stress, sleep disorders and relaxation techniques. He also explained about the effects of sleep deprivation and behavioral problems.

Pehchaan can be reached at or call (813) 810-2470.



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