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The Indian festive season is incomplete without Navratri, the festival of nine nights. Here’s a look at some of the Navratri activities scheduled in Florida. So, dust off your garba garb, pick up your dandiyas and get ready to dance the night away:


The new Navratri venue was highly successful in 2005, thanks to then-Gujarati Samaj of Tampa President Kanti Bakarania. This year, once again Navratri celebrations will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds (4800 U.S. 301 N). Unlike in previous years, Navratri will be held only on Fridays and Saturdays, Sept. 22-23, Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7.

For information, call Parimal Butala at (813) 892-8197, Usha Patel at (813) 653-9341 or click on

Also observing Navratri in the Bay area is Sanatan Mandir on Sept. 30 and the Hindu Temple of Florida from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2. For information on the Sanatan Mandir, call (813) 221-4482; for information on the Hindu Temple, call (813) 962-6890.


The Gujarati Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate the festival of nine nights on Sept. 22-23, Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 6-7 at Dr. Phillips High School on Turkey Lake Road in Orlando. Rameshbhai and Parivar Group from United Kingdom and Raj and Smruti Pandya will perform.

For more information, call Samaj President V.M. Patel at (407) 467-9220 or Kalpana Patel at (407) 996-3925.

The Hindu Society of Central Florida in Casselberry also will observe Navratri Garba from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1, Saraswathi Puja on Sept. 29 and Durga Ashtami on Sept. 30. For more information, call the temple at (407) 699-5277 or check out


The Palm Beach India Association will hold Navratri on Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 at Palm Beach Gardens High School Auditorium. For more information, click on

The Indian Religious & Cultural Center, Leva Patidar Samaj of South Florida and Gujarati Samaj of South Florida will observe Navratri from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29-30 at Silver Trail Middle School in Pembroke Pines. For information, call Daksha Vakharia at (954) 384-5485, Asha Gupta at (954) 568-2627 or click on


The Hindu Society of Northeast Florida (HSNEF) will hold Raas Garba from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 24-28 and Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Vijaya Dasami and Dassera will be celebrated on Oct. 2. For more information, call (904) 269-1155 or click on

SPACE COAST The Indian Association of Space Coast (IASC) will observe Navratri at 7:30 p.m. at Cocoa Expo Sports Center (Sept. 24 and Sept. 30) and Eau Gallie Civic Center (Oct. 7). For information, e-mail or click on

Padmashri S. P. Balasubrahmanyam
Story provided by Hindu Society of Central Florida

A popular music extravaganza fundraising event will enthrall Floridians with a night of evergreen songs performed by one of India’s most famous singers – Padmashri S. P. Balasubrahmanyam. The Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) is hosting the show in its Community Hall at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Bala – as he is known to millions of fans – has recorded more than 36,000 songs in various languages, ranging from Bengali to Malayalam. He recorded his first song in 1966 and it was such a hit that he gave up his engineering studies to become a playback singer. Over the years, Bala has garnered dozens of national awards and given hundreds of performances. His stage performances are well known for his high energy, magnetic voice and variety of styles and songs.

Dr. Aravind Pillai of the HSCF Board of Trustees said this program was originally scheduled for Aug. 2004 but was postponed because of the severe hurricane season. He added “the living legend came to Orlando in 2004 in spite of (Hurricane Charley) and now we all look forward to his mesmerizing singing.” Bala will be accompanied by his 14-member band of musicians and singers during the Central Florida performance at HSCF, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL 32706. All proceeds from the concert will go to HSCF charitable projects and tickets are tax-deductible.

For information, call the HSCF office at (407) 699-5277 or visit

Story provided by Shraddha Belsare

Hindu Sangam, a daylong event on Sept. 16 in Tampa, will feature an extraordinary set of speakers and performers.

The event provides a unique setting for Hindus from all around Florida, with diverse backgrounds to unite, celebrate and revive the Hindu spirit. Some of the guests supporting the theme of Hindu unity are Sri Ravi Kumar, Sri Satyanarayan Mourya, Swami Aksharananda and Anuradha Paudwal.

Aside from these four showstoppers, Hindu Sangam has an array of activities for children, which includes the student/family Ganesh Puja, stalls, Balagokulam, food and snacks.

Hindu Sangam will be held at Sickles High School at Gunn Highway and Ehrlich Road in Tampa. There is no entry fee for the event, but participants in the Ganesh Puja are encouraged to pre-register. For information, click on or call Yashwant Belsare (863) 838-3636, Prakhar Agarwal at (407) 399-8936, Ajay Joshi at (954) 689-8666, Nainan Desai at (813) 931-7442, or Braham Aggarwal (407) 352-2889.


At the Tampa India Independence Day Forum: Bottom picture from left to right: Past President Dr. Pawan Rattan (back), Event Chair Dr. I.V.S. Nath, Executive VP Dr. Kishan Batra, Founding president Chandrakant Patel, President Dr. Shyam Mohapatra, President-Elect Dr. V. Rao Emandi, Chief Guest Ambassador R.S. Jassal and past President Dr. G.M. Ramappa.
Story provided by FIA

Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando, Jacksonville, Coconut Creek (in South Florida) and Cocoa (Space Coast) and several other cities in the Sunshine State celebrated India’s Independence Day in August.

TAMPA: More than 1,700 people attended Indian Independence Day festivities Aug. 20 in Tampa. The chief guest for the annual event, organized by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), was Ambassador R.S. Jassal, who is the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C. Other invited guests included State Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Tampa Police Chief Steve Hogg and many dignitaries.

The program highlighted the first annual community health education program comprising five booths, which was spearheaded by the event chair Dr. I.V.S. Nath, a gastroenterologist in the Tampa Bay area. In addition, the regional exhibits comprised of several displays specific to different states, which uniquely symbolized the state. Also, a number of booths provided sumptuous food to suit everyone’s palates. The program also featured entertainment, both competitive and free-style regional dances, coordinated by Laxmi Sastry. The cultural program was followed by the time-honored tradition of flag hoisting.

The traditional awards ceremony this year saw the prestigious Bharat Seva Award being conferred upon the late Dr. A.N.V. Rao for his selfless service to the community and his contribution to enhancing the education of Indian youths, which will never be forgotten. Dr. Rao Musunuru was awarded the FIA Outstanding Professional of the Year Award. The Distinguished Service Award was given to founding president Chandrakant Patel for his commitment and support of FIA activities during the last four years.

Ambassador Jassal addressed the audience on India as the largest democracy of the world and the role it is playing in strengthening Indo-U.S. relations.

Outgoing FIA President Dr. Shyam Mohapatra gave a farewell speech thanking the FIA executive team and the members of the India Independence Day Celebration Committee for their support and passed on the baton to Dr. V. Rao Emandi, the incoming president for the year 2006-07.

The event concluded with the Aniruddh’s Band from Atlanta.

SOUTH FLORIDA: About 2,000 people dropped in at the Omni Auditorium in Coconut Creek (South Florida) to watch India culture in the form of dance, food and several exhibits on display. The event was organized by the South Florida chapter of the Association of Indians in America (AIA) along with several other social, religious and cultural Indian organizations.



On Aug. 19, the Indian Association of Tallahassee (IATLH) organized a well-attended gathering to celebrate 59 years of free India. It was held at the Florida Heritage Hall in downtown Tallahassee. MD Manage, a VCarve company, specializing in medical billing services, sponsored the event.

The evening started with Srinivasa Kishore, president of IATLH, welcoming the audience, followed by the unfurling of both the Indian and American flags. The honor of hoisting the national flags was conferred on Renuka Chatterjee, the eldest person in the gathering. It was followed by the rendering of the two national anthems.

In addition to the standard celebrations, IATLH held a thought- provoking panel discussion on “Penetrating The Grassroots.” The talk was primarily centered around the Indian community’s contribution in individual capacity and collectively and its role in contemporary American society.

Panel member Somnath Chatterjee said that individually, Indians have achieved and contributed their share but couldn’t at the grass-root level. Naru Nayak, a management professional, believed that although they have not penetrated the grass-root level, they are capable of doing so. Sudhir Aggarwal, a professor at the Florida State University, said that while Indians are part of the society, they need to contribute not as a society but as citizens of this country.

Kumar Reddy, an IT professional and a panel member, observed that the educated and over-qualified Indians stay away from the mainstream Americans and that they need to become more conspicuous. Hardeep Singh, a physician and panel member, said that Indians still live with a guilt conscience that they could not give back to the society they came from and he sees the need to integrate the two nations politically.

The discussion, moderated by Ravi Chander, concluded with a brief social.

Grand Opening of Demystifying India at MOSI
By Aakash M. Patel

Over 6,000 people are expected to attend the grand opening of the Demystifying India project on Saturday September 16 at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa. The initiative, which is a joint effort organized by the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce and MOSI, is the culmination of nearly 12 months of planning, fund-raising and developing.

The long-term initiative is designed to help create a community, which embraces and celebrates Indian cultural diversity. “This important endeavor will provide the Tampa Bay community with a thorough education and detailed insight into India, its rich culture, and its vast contributions to society, past, present and future, ” states Prash Pavagadhi, president of the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce.

“Thanks to the help of our donors, volunteers and the officials at MOSI, this Demystifying India project, the first of its kind anywhere in the US, is no longer a goal, but a reality for the whole Tampa Bay community to share,” continued Pavagadhi.

In honor of the grand opening, of the Demystifying India project, MOSI will allow all visitors free entrance to the Demystifying India exhibition, as well as a free pass for all visitors to view the beautiful IMAX movie, Mystic India: An Incredible Journey of Inspiration.

The festivities will begin at 11:00 am with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the main MOSI atrium. Visitors will be able to sample a variety of Indian culture, including Indian food, music, arts, culture, education and clothing will be set up for the day long celebration. They will get a chance to view Mystic India for the first time, beginning at 9 am and continuing throughout the day. Under the partnership agreement between Indo-US and MOSI, the movie will be playing at MOSI for at least two years. The grand opening will also include a keynote speech by Robert Arnett, award winning author of the book, India Unveiled.

For more information, click or or

Aakash M. Patel is a research associate at one of Florida's largest independent public relations and communications consulting firms, Tucker/Hall, Inc. He can be reached at (813) 228- 0652 or e-mail at


Santoor player Nandkishor Muley

Gainesville and Jacksonville are among the Florida cities celebrating the 137th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on Sunday, Oct. 1.

The Indian Cultural and Education Center (ICEC) in Gainesville will be presenting a santoor concert by Pandit Nandkishor Muley from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a banquet at 7 p.m. Joining Muley on the tabla will be Aditya Kalyanpur.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the gate for students; for non-students, charge is $10 in advance and $12 at the gate. Tickets for concert and banquet are $30 in advance. Sponsors are sought for the concert.

For information, call Dinesh Shah at (352) 871-4993 or Prabhakar Keskar at (352) 338-1591.

In Jacksonville, the Gandhi Memorial Society for Project Nobleman will be spearheading the installation of Gandhi statue Oct. 1 on the University of North Florida campus.

“The status will not only be an honor to Gandhiji and the university but also a means to incite a thinking about human values,” said society President Ashok K. Bazaz.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. Oct. 1 with a peace walk, followed by a celebration at the monument site, a one-minute silence, violin recital, speeches by dignitaries, unveiling and an intercultural program.

For more information, call Ashok K. Bazaz at (904) 642 6139 or Ramesh Vashi at (904) 519-7907.

“Neeharika” took the stage recently in Clearwater.

Jacksonville-based Rasajhari recently presented “Neeharika,” (wisp of a cloud) an Indian dance ballet, in Clearwater. The ballet with Hindi language lyrics is about the purpose of life as explained to Neeharika by the five elements of nature: namely the Earth; the Sun representing the fire; the moon representing the sky; the wind; and Neeharika, the cloud herself representing the water. “Every life has a destined purpose and a destined companion to fulfill the goal together,” said the dance ballet lyricist Uma Eyyunni of St. Augustine. “The cycle of life passes through emotions of love, friendship, sorrow of separation from the beloved, happiness on meeting the right companion, and finally the satisfaction of meeting the goals. Nature is the guide and witness to the cycle of life.” The ballet, which has previously toured other Florida cities such as Jacksonville and Tallahassee, is choreographed by Subashree Narayanan of Jacksonville with music by Sreenivas Kishore of Tallahassee. For show details, contact Dr. Uma Eyyunni at or Krish Seetharaman at


Story provided by Madhuri Vaidya

The Navarasa Dance Academy will present “Talas & Rasas,” an innovative and exciting classical Indian and contemporary dance performance on Sept. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Freedom High School in New Tampa. Choreographed by Anandi Srinivas, director of the Navarasa Dance Academy, this show will present traditional Bharatnatyam dance items, as well as contemporary fusion dance items that blend Indian classical and modern jazz dance forms. A highly accomplished dancer, Srinivas received training from Mallika Sarabhai at the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts in Ahmedabad.

This premiere dance program presented by the Navarasa Academy will be performed by Srinivas and her advanced-level students – Divya Aickara, Maya Vaidya, Shruti Narasimha and Sindhu Saba. The program will showcase the talents of these highly gifted young women as they perform a wide spectrum of dances.

For tickets and information, e-mail or; or call (813) 494-5058 or (813) 389-2121.

Story provided by BAPS

Severe monsoon rains, which began during the last week of July caused widespread flooding in Gujarat.

Vast areas have been left submerged under water leaving many marooned without food or necessary requisites. According to official estimates, more than 4.5 million people have become homeless and many others have lost their livelihood.

To address this need, BAPS Care International centers in Gujarat marshaled into action and prepared 82,400 food packets and 73,000 fresh water pouches at Amdavad.

"Based on our relief and rehabilitation experience of the Gujarat Floods last year, Hurricane Katrina relief work, Tsunami tragedy, the massive 2001 Gujarat earthquake and the floods in Orissa and West Bengal, we anticipate that in the aftermath of such a tragedy, food supply and distribution of fresh drinking water and milk would be an extremely important priority" explained Nilkanth Patel, president, BAPS Care International.

BAPS Care International centers across the United States organized prayers and appeals for donations to relief funds.

For updated information or to donate, call 1-888-227-3881 (1-888-CARE-881) or (732) 777-1818 or click on

The July-August cover of “The Indian American” magazine.

For as long as we have known him, Dr. Akshay Desai, CEO and president of Universal Health Care in St. Petersburg, has dabbled in politics, health care or charity work. Now, you can add the world of media to the list of the St. Petersburg resident’s pet projects.

In May-June, Desai launched a bimonthly national magazine “The Indian American” from New York with Sunil Adam as editor. The magazine seeks to inform analyze and entertain people of South Asian origin in the United States.

What spurred him to dabble into journalism? “About two years ago, I was looking at a variety of publications and found that there was a dearth of high-quality magazines for upper-end professionals,” replied Desai. “Their needs weren’t being met. So, we decided to fill the vacuum.”

The first issue, which carried CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta on the cover, had a printing run of 40,000. “The response has been overwhelming, very constructive,” said Desai.

In the second issue, which was marked July-August, “the Indian American” had Srinija Srinivasan, co-founder of Yahoo! Inc. on the cover. Also in the issue is an interview with conservative commentator Dinesh D’ Souza, Q & A with “India Abroad” managing editor Aziz Haniffa, book reviews, teen talk, etc.

Annual subscription to “The Indian American” is $12. To subscribe, click on

S.K. Rao Musunuru
Story provided by Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point

Trustee S.K. Rao Musunuru was elected to serve chairman for the 2006-2007 academic year by the District Board of Trustees for Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Musunuru is a board-certified cardiologist, affiliated with Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County since 1981. Over the years, he has served as Chief of Medicine, Chief of Staff, Chair of the Board of Trustees and Director of Cardiology for its Heart Institute. He also has been an active American Heart Association volunteer since 1979 and is a past recipient of the AHA National Chairman’s Award and National Physician of the Year.

Appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, Musunuru has served on the board since 1999 with previous service as chair in 2002-2003.

Story provided by Hindu Student Council

The Hindu Student Council (HSC) held its annual leadership retreat from Aug. 18-20 in Orlando. Thirty members participated in the session; most of them are regional coordinators who met to discuss issues, events and learn mentoring and leadership techniques.

Formed in 1990, HSC is the first student-based organization to focus on promoting Hindu culture and community service activities.

Participant Rishi Bhutada of Houston, said that “it is only when young Hindus get to college that they experience the depth of their religion; without the parental pressures, the Hindu faith resonates in their hearts.”

Heading the organization is Nikunj Trivedi. At the retreat, he spoke with a group of local Orlando-based community activists on HSC efforts at increasing its cumulative total of more than 130,000 members in 81 U.S. colleges.

The audience was so impressed by these young students’ efforts at maintaining the rich Hindu heritage that Anil Deshpande of Orlando pledged $10,000 to start a trust fund for the HSC organization. He promised to help them set up the fund and get more donations form the Hindu community in the U.S.

This retreat was made possible by the generous support of Braham Aggarwal, chairman of Park Square Homes.

For ore information, visit:



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 as Khaas Baat kicks off yet another new column to meet the rising needs of businesses and our readers. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at

BAWARCHI IN PALM HARBOR CELEBRATES TWO YEARS Bawarchi Indian Restaurant in Palm Harbor is celebrating its two-year anniversary this month. The eatery also offers banquet facilities for up to 50 people.

Every Tuesday, a special vegetarian buffet is served from 5 to 9 p.m. Lunch buffet is 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday and dinner is from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant also caters for any event as well as offers takeout.

Bawarchi at 34832 U.S. 19 N. in Palm Harbor can be reached at (727) 789-9760.


Malani Jewelers will hold a grand opening Sept. 9-10 in Tampa.

The 1,500-square-foot store at 2367 E. Fowler Ave. (in the Apna Bazar and Mirch Masala plaza on Fowler Avenue) offers 22-carat gold, precious-stone jewelry, a diamond collection, antique gold and watches.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Tuesdays, the store can be reached at (813) 866-4653 (GOLD), via e-mail at or check out


Last month, we informed Khaas Baat readers about, a Web site that provides Hindi and South Indian film schedules. We also urge our readers to click on www.dattanientertainment for movie timings throughout the state of Florida. Enjoy the show!

Tim Madhanagopal received the national awards NSPE President Robert Miller.

The accolades keep on piling up for Tim Madhanagopal, plant manager in the Orange County Utilities, who is responsible for the award-winning Eastern and Northwest Treatment Facilities operations and maintenance functions, industrial application of the reclaimed water and wetlands management.

At the recent Florida Engineering Society’s 90th annual conference in West Palm Beach, Madhanagopal was presented with three awards.

The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) presented Madhanagopal with its second annual Professional Engineers in Government Achievement and Service in the United States (PEGASUS) Award. This national award, also known as the Government Engineer of the Year, honors a professional engineer employed by a state, regional, county, special district, or municipal government, who has made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement and practice of engineering in the United States.

NSPE also picked Madhanagopal as the 2006 NSPE Fellow. The recognition program honors those licensed members of NSPE who have demonstrated exemplary service to the profession, the society and the community.

Also, Florida Engineering Society (FES), the state affiliate of the NSPE, honored Madhanagopal with the 2006 Outstanding Service to the Engineering Profession Award. This award is given by the FES each year to an individual who has a well-rounded record of achievement in education, employment, professional, and public service activities, by virtue of his/her service, had a significant positive impact on the engineering profession.

Madhanagopal is past president of the Hindu Society of Central Florida and co-founder and past president of the Muthamizh Sangam of Central Florida. He served as the co-chairman of the memorable Kumbhabhishekam of Hindu temple in Casselberry and led the religious program. He is currently serving as the chairman of the Asian American Heritage Council in Central Florida.

He and his wife of 25 years, Vyjayanthi, have two college going children – son Harry, 21, and daughter Hema, 18.

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