Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News


By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

HAF’s Nikhil Joshi, left, with Florida Congresswoman
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen,second from right, and two Florida supporters.

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) will hold its 10th anniversary gala, luncheon and cultural program on Sunday, Dec. 8, in Tampa from where the national organization initially was launched. Beginning at noon, the free event will be held at India Cultural Center’s Lotus Hall (5511 Lynn Road). HAF presenters are Mihir Meghani and SriVani Ganti. Keynote speaker will be Dipa Shah, candidate for Hillsborough County School Board.

“HAF will continue to meet the challenges of the future, not just as Hindus, but as fellow beings sharing limited resources in a world that daily presents dangers to our cohabitation as well as opportunities for successful coexistence,” said Mihir Meghani, co-founder and member, board of director for HAF. “Our future success will not just be measured in the growth of our members, chapters, donations, staff, volunteers, press releases, connections and events, but on the long-term impact we have on society at large, and all of that, I see nothing but an even brighter future.”

HAF’s Mihir Meghani with
Congressman Ami Bera.

HAF has a professional staff of eight employees at HAF offices from Washington, D.C., to New York to California. “This staff will help further HAF’s core mission of advocating understanding, tolerance and pluralism in public policy, media and academia, while also enhancing HAF’s next frontier, local chapter development,” said Nikhil Joshi, co-founder, former board member, member Executive Council for HAF. “I cannot be more excited to see what HAF accomplishes over the next 10 years.”

An advocacy organization for the Hindu American community, HAF educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide, and builds bridges with institutions and individuals whose work aligns with HAF’s objectives. It focuses on human and civil rights, public policy, media, academia and interfaith relations.

For more information, call Nikhil Joshi at (813) 205-8069, Nainan Desai at (813) 245-8417. To RSVP for the Dec. 8 event, visit or e-mail [email protected]

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Motherscry and Rasajhari are presenting “Swami Vivekananda – A Universal Missionary,” on Dec. 8 at the Bolles Middle School, Parker Auditorium, in Jacksonville. Motherscry Inc., a non-profit organization launched on Nov. 14, 2010, looks to bring awareness to the community about the challenges of mental health issues and autism.

Statistics show that one in four families are challenged with one type of mental health issue or the other ranging from commonly known depression, anxiety disorders to bipolar and schizophrenia. Autism cases also seem to be diagnosed more. Despite paying attention to physical ailments, the community at large appears reluctant to recognize and support mental health issues. The "cry" of Motherscry organization is to render support to such families and erase the stigma by educational efforts.

Presenting subjects such as challenges of dual cultures, bullying in schools, common anxiety and depression disorders, dementia, early diagnosis of autism and treatment facilities, have been the on the agenda for Motherscry. "Mothers quest for Child's best " is their slogan.

The social hour for presentation of posters is 3 p.m. The show starts at 4 p.m., with a multinational presentation of the song "We Belong." Admission is free and sponsors are welcome.

Details of the organization can be found at Or call Dr. Uma Eyyunni at (904) 810-7626.

CAPI Creates Endowment for UCF School of MEDICINE Students

Dr. Uday Desai presents a $30,000 check
to Dr. Deborah German.

During its annual fall meeting Nov. 9 in Orlando, the Central Florida Association of Physicians from the Indian Subcontinent (CAPI) president Dr. Uday A. Desai and its 600 members donated $30,000 toward the creation of the Endowment fund for University of Central Florida Medical School students. More than 260 CAPI members attended the event.

On behalf of CAPI, Dr. Desai presented the check to Dr. Deborah German, vice president of Medical Affairs and dean of UCF's Medical School. Dr. German, while speaking at the event, thanked the group for their commitment to supporting the medical school.

“We at CAPI are a strong medical community, and are already doing good community service in addition to providing the best patient care. Each of us has been donating on an individual level, but we would like to create goodwill in our “KarmaBhumi” by joining forces and be part of civil society,” Dr. Desai said. “This will be a permanent reminder of CAPI’s commitment to future physicians and to assure that they are able to complete their medical education with the least amount of debt possible.” The CAPI M.D. Endowed Scholarship will be based on three criteria: 1) student of Indian origin; 2) merit; and 3) financial need.

UCF students join Dean Dr. Deborah German.

In his address, Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar, President-Elect of national American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), lauded the many achievements of CAPI under the leadership of Dr. Desai.

 Jarrod Fowler, medical economics policy analyst for the Florida Medical Association, spoke on “Obamacare.” Dr Ravi Akella, President Elect, shared his 2014 vision for CAPI. Others who had addressed the event included, Dr. Amish Parikh, chairman for AAPI 2015 national convention, who spoke on obesity awareness and India Day 2014.

Clinical presentations were provided by Florida Hospital internal medicine young medical residents and UCF medical students. Medical Student, Resident Fellows Section (MSRF) also presented clinical and research work in the form of the poster presentation.

AAPI President-Elect Dr. Ravi Jahagirdar

For more information, visit

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Tampa Hosts Traditional Diwali Celebration

Story provided by BAPS

Sneh Dadhania had heard his parents and grandparents reminisce about their joyous experiences of Diwali. They spoke of homes and neighborhoods lit with candles as well as sweets that families had prepared and shared. His grandmother would tell stories of the many types of fireworks, the beautifully decorated homes and mandirs, and the days of celebration. Sneh wanted to experience the festive ambiance for himself and was thrilled when he had the opportunity to attend the Diwali celebrations at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Such grand festivities were held in several Florida communities, including Tampa, on Nov. 3.

While celebrating traditional festivals within one's homeland is common, maintaining the practice in a distant land can be difficult but remains essential in passing on culture, meaning, importance, and traditions to future generations. For Hindus, Diwali presents an opportunity to renew the rich traditions of their roots with great fanfare as well as a chance to reflect. Realizing these important facts, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS, inspires programs to celebrate Hindu festivals, such as Diwali, at BAPS centers worldwide.

The foundation of Diwali is based in the belief of dispelling darkness with light. While candles are lit to remove darkness, more important is the recognition of the darkness within human nature manifested through destructive emotions such as anger, envy, greed, arrogance, and hatred. The auspicious occasion reminds one to make an effort to recognize and eradicate these qualities. The bright colors of rangoli, the candles and the elaborate offerings of vegetarian food (Annakut) to God, all mark a renewal of virtues within oneself and goodwill toward others.

With thousands in attendance, the BAPS Diwali celebration welcomed all to take in the scene of the bright colors of the rangoli. Inside, people witnessed a diverse offering of food before the murtis of God.  

Reflecting on the scenes of the day, Jaishree Patel, said, “The way we did everything for this festival reminded me of how we used to do it in India. Even though we are living thousands of miles away from India, the experience is the same.”

Ten-year-old Sneh Dadhania also shared his amazement: “I loved seeing all the different varieties of vegetarian dishes offered to God, meeting lots of new people, and the amazing fireworks.”

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is at 9556 E. Fowler Ave. in Thonotosassa. For information, call (813) 986-5473 or visit

CALL 813-758-1786.
or write to

[email protected]
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