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Trina Chakravarty of Jacksonville is winner of the Miss India USA 2005 pageant.

They came, they saw and they were impressed. Indeed. About 4,500 people attended the Aug. 20 festivities in Tampa honoring India’s 58th Independence Day. The huge crowd also had the opportunity to see Trina Chakravarty of Jacksonville, Florida picked as Miss India USA 2005.

“The event is surpassing our expectations every passing year,” said Satya Shaw, event chairman. “We are ourselves surprised with the turn-up of such a large number of people for the celebrations.”

Organized by the Federation of Indian Associations of Florida (FIA), the daylong event at the University of South Florida’s SunDome began with a 65-member marching band of King High School in Tampa. Bollywood actor Preeti Jhangiani was the grand marshal of the Independence Day Parade. The keynote address was given by Gujarat Minister of Industries Anil Patel.

As many as 31 groups from Florida presented dance performances on the stage.

Bollywood actor Preeti Jhangiani and her troupe mesmerized the audience with thrilling dance numbers.

Hollywood-fame drummer Ravi Jakhotia and Jhangiani took to the stage to showcase their respective talent. Nearly 50 booths offering Indian food, clothes, music and jewelry were set up.

The highlight of the evening was the 24th annual Miss India USA Pageant, organized by Dharmatma Saran of New York-based India Festival Committee. It was hosted by Satya Shah and Chandra Patel of FIA.

Trina Chakravarty, winner of the Miss India USA Pageant, is a first-year student at University of Florida in Gainesville. The 18-year-old plans to become a surgeon. Affluent in English, French and Bengali, her hobbies include Indian classical dancing.

Hollywood-fame drummer Ravi Jakhotia gave an amazing performance during the daylong festivities.
Incidentally, her mother, Aparna, was winner of the Miss India New York pageant in 1982, said Dharmatma Saran, chairman of IFC, which has been organizing the event since 1980. Chakravarty will now represent USA at the 15th annual Miss India Worldwide pageant on Dec. 3 in Bombay.

First- and second runner-ups among the 33 contestants were Nisha Mirchandani, 24, and Tashi Sharma, 22, both from New York. Other two finalists were Seema Srivastava of Ohio and Khyati Gupta of Mississippi.

Bhaav Raag Taal will perform on Sept. 17 in Tampa and Sept. 18 in Orlando.

      Bhaav Raag Taal, a dance production that blends Kathak and Bharat Natyam dance, will be performing at Sickles High School in Tampa on Sept. 17 and the following day in Orlando. The venue and details have yet to be determined for the Orlando performance.  

The presentation by Nirupama and Rajendra and their team from the Bangalore-based Abhinava Arts Center ( will serve as the annual fundraiser for the Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa.  

"The show will be a one-of-its-kind as it features unique concepts, outstanding music (both traditional and contemporary), and brilliant costumes of high-caliber performances by eight dancers from India," said G.M. Ramappa, president of the Hindu Temple. He expects about 400-500 people to attend the Tampa event.  

Bhaav Raag Taal opens with a blaze of swirling colors through "Mangal Dhwani" -- an auspicious beginning, followed by a repertoire of sequences with themes from mythology to modern times. Other sequences include "Varsha" -- the magic of the monsoon; "Sringara Rama" -- the divine love of Lord Rama and Sita; and "Raas Lila" -- colorful dance of Lord Krishna and the gopis.  

Rajendra and Nirupama -- artistic directors, choreographers and lead performers -- will be joined by professional dancers Umalakshmi, Mridula, Sindhu, Sowmya, Deepa and Punitha.  

Tickets for the 7 p.m. Tampa temple fundraiser are $100 per person. For more information, call Ramappa at (727) 863-5474 or Manjul Derasari at (813) 977-6695 or click on  

For further details on the Orlando event, call Gopal Iyengar at (407) 876-7686 or (407) 4320561 or check out  

Kanti Bakarania

Bring out those ghagra-cholis and dandiyas from your closet. You will need them as soon as Navratri celebrations kick off Oct. 7 in Tampa. The festival of nine nights will be celebrated with great fanfare and fun by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay, which boasts a membership of about 600 members.

“This year to accommodate more people and make the event more comfortable, we are going to hold Navratri at two different places in Tampa,” said Kanti Bakarania, president of the Gujarati Samaj. “On Fridays and Saturdays (Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14-15), we will be holding the event for the first time at Florida State Fairgrounds and on Sundays (Oct. 9 and Oct. 16) at India Cultural Center.

Returning to the Bay area to perform are two groups: Lalit Sodha from Bombay and Babra from Ahmedabad, who will perform in the first and second week respectively.

“We expect about 2,000 people to attend the festivities daily,” said Bakarania. “The air-conditioned fairgrounds hall is estimated to have at least 50,000 square feet of space,”

On Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14-15, Navratri will begin from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Entertainment Hall at the fairgrounds (4800 N. U.S. Highway 301) and on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, it will be held from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at India Cultural Center (5511 Lynn Road).

Admission is free for Samaj members. Non-members and guests will be charged $10 each per day and students with ID are $5 each per day. Parking is $5 per vehicle each day.

For more information, call Kanti Bakarania at (813) 653-4981 or Parimal Butala at (813) 892-8197 or click on

Taraana Summer Music Camp organized a musical program “Sa Re Ga Ma” on Aug. 6 at the Octagon Arts Center in Clearwater. The event, attended by more than 60 people, provided a wonderful platform for some talented children and youth to share their musical skills and gifts. It was conceived and conducted by Sharmistha Banerjee who worked with five children – Anwesha Banerjee, Aishwarya and Anirudh Challa, Laila Farishta and Abhimanyu Janamanchi – over the summer teaching them the basics of Hindustani classical music and songs from the classical, folk and film traditions.

The camp started on July 9 and met weekly at Sharmistha Banerjee’s home in Oldsmar. The children spent their time learning music, developing friendships and gaining a deeper understanding of Indian culture and music.

The Aug. 6 grand finale began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha and then a tribute to the Guru. The children sang a “Sargam” in Raag Yaman Kalyan. This was followed by three film songs from “Lagaan,” “Saathiya” and “Swades.” Sharmistha Banerjee regaled the audience with a rendition of three songs (Nazrul Geeti) by the reputed Bengali poet-composer Kazi Nazrul Islam. Anirudh Challa followed it up with a tabla solo in teen taal.

The children sang a composition “Ananda Loke ...” by Rabindranath Tagore and then provided an exposition on the similarities and differences between Western notes “Do Re Mi” and Indian notes “Sa Re Ga” with the song “Do A Deer” from the film, “The Sound of Music.” A serene exploration of the Raag Bhairav accompanying a more breezy rendition of a “Taraana” also was a highlight of the program.

The evening ended with the children singing both the Indian and American national anthems.

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