Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News


Sejal GhayalGrowing up in India, she was always singing around the house, her family and neighbors knew she would be a successful vocalist. Sejal Ghayal of Melbourne has sung with Bollywood singers such as Manhar Udhas and Abhijeet. Though family and friends urged her to release an album earlier, Ghayal wanted to wait for the perfect sound and quality.

In late 2014, she was introduced to ghazal singer Jaswinder Singh, disciple of the late Jagjit Singh. Ghayal forwarded her demo album to him and the rest as they say is history. Her album incorporates the works of some of the great poets of India and Pakistan. The music was composed from scratch, the words transformed into ghazals and the end result is “Tum Bhi Na,” which is available on Amazon for purchase.

For concert lovers, the artists will perform songs from the album at “Close To My Heart, Tribute to Legend Jagjit Singh, Geet and Ghazal Concert” from 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Gleason Performing Arts Center (Florida Institute of Technology), 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne. Tickets range from $25 in advance; $35, $50, $125, $250 and VIP sponsorships are available. For details, call Kaushik Ghayal at (321) 271-7250 or e-mail 


Miss India

Miss Teen India 2014 Simron Ward, left, and Miss India Florida Monica Shah
escort cancer survivor Kyle at a Pediatric Cancer Foundation Charity event.

The Miss India Florida Pageant is back again and bigger than ever. This year’s pageant will be a red carpet event with celebrities, and Indian women representing their heritage, culture and Florida for the largest international ethnic pageant: Miss India Worldwide. 

Though nationally the Miss India USA pageant has been going for over 35 years, Florida had been off the map for nine years until it was brought back by the current Florida state director Rahul Prakash. Monica Shah was crowned as the winner at Busch Gardens last year and went on to compete at the Miss India USA 2014 pageant with Miss Teen India Florida 2014 Simron Ward and runner-up Miss India Florida 2014 Ramina Ashfaque. Shah made Florida proud by finishing as the runner-up Miss India USA 2014, and picking up the Miss Bollywood award.

This year, the Miss India Florida board hope for the same success. The pageant gives a platform to Indian women to make a difference and be the face of Indians living in Florida. The Miss India Florida pageant values more than beauty, but a well-rounded woman who presents intelligence, discipline, and embodies Indian values.

With the addition of Mrs. and Miss Teen, the pageant promises to be an entertaining event, hosted at the University of South Florida in Tampa. The pageant weekend will begin with a Talent Night on Oct. 3 at the USF Oval Theater, followed by a celebrity dinner with stars such as Bollywood legend Shatrughan Sinha, Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen, and actor Somy Ali. The main event is on Oct. 4 at the USF Theater 1, 3839 USF Holly Drive.

To register and purchase tickets to the show, visit

Miss Teen India 2014 Simron Ward, left, and Miss India Florida Monica Shah escort cancer survivor Kyle at a Pediatric Cancer Foundation Charity event. 

Tampa BAPS Mandir in Tampa Honors Kalam’s Legacy and ‘Transcendence’

TranscendenceOn Aug.15, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Tampa honored the legacy of the late former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam with the launch of his final book and gift to mankind, “Transcendence.” It documents a 14-year journey between Dr. Kalam and His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, who carries forward a legacy of enlightened gurus that goes back to the early 19th century.

The event was a tribute to Dr. Kalam’s lifetime of dedicated public service and varied contributions to India’s development as a country. Throughout his remarkable career, Dr. Kalam wrote more than 30 books and is considered to be one of India’s most widely read and best-selling authors. In “Transcendence,” Dr. Kalam’s writings focus on the philosophical and spiritual guidance from Pramukh Swami Maharaj that shaped his purpose and direction in serving India.

Most astonishing about their profound friendship is that Dr. Kalam was not conversant in Gujarati, Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s native language, and Pramukh Swami does not speak English. Despite the language barrier, they were able to transcend communication challenges. The resulting bond, built on selfless service and sustained through common interest, was life changing for Dr. Kalam and is thoughtfully articulated in his writing.

Dr. Kalam’s “Transcendence” explores one man’s journey to discover universal truths, unlock the science behind progress, and understand the critical role of spirituality in leading India forward. He narrates his visits to historic sites worldwide, while reflecting on the various moments of divinity he experiences along the way. But, as he writes, it is in the presence of Pramukh Swami Maharaj that his spirituality truly flourishes. Dr. Kalam describes Pramukh Swami Maharaj as “my ultimate teacher.” He wrote, “Pramukh Swamiji shared with me many times his wish for peace, development, security and prosperity in the world. He feels that Indian people’s kindness, openness, tolerance and willingness to engage in dialogue is inbuilt in our civilizational heritage. He firmly believes in the potential of the Indian people to co-build a harmonious world where there is permanent peace, shared prosperity, cooperation and a ‘win-win’ with all other countries.”

For more information, visit 


The autumnal equinox this year will witness a milestone event in the history of the yogic sciences.

As a tribute to Adi Yogi, the world’s first yogi who offered a path-breaking technology of enduring relevance to raise human consciousness, Isha Foundation is offering a phenomenal and uniquely energized spiritual possibility that will be made available to seekers across the planet – Adiyogi: The Abode of Yoga. On Sept. 22-24, the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences, 951 Isha Lane, McMinnville, Tenn., will host the opening of Adi Yogi: The Abode of Yoga. Florida seekers are invited to attend.

For the past 30 years, the Isha Foundation, founded by Sadhguru – a yogi, mystic and visionary – has been a leader in providing classical yoga- and meditation-based programs for individual inner well-being. As a premier international yoga organization, Isha Foundation has touched the lives of seven million people from all walks of life worldwide with more than three million volunteers and in over 200 city centers. 

To register for the event or for more information, visit

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