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Here are the Florida communities celebrating Navratri:

The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Garba Dandiya Night from 8 p.m. on Oct. 13-14. Performer will be Garima Khiste. On Oct. 20-21, Master Rana’s group will perform for Garba Nights. Both events, which are free for GSTB members and $20 for non-members, begin at 8 p.m. at Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N. For information, call GSTB President Mukesh Patel at (727) 505-4636.

Sanatan Mandir at 311 E. Palm Ave., Tampa, will celebrate Sharad Navratri festival on Oct 15. Dussehra celebrations will be on Oct. 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. For details, call the temple at (813) 221-4482, email [email protected] or visit www.sanatanmandirtampa.org

Ambaji Mandir at 10991 58th St., in Pinellas Park, is celebrating Navratri with daily garba from Oct. 15-24 after aarti at 7 p.m. Navratri Ashtami is from 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and Dussehra from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24. For more information, call the mandir at (727) 388-6685 or visit www.ambajimandir.org

Sri Laxmi Narayan Mandir is celebrating Navratri with daily garba from Oct. 15-24 after aarti at 7 p.m. Navratri Ashtami is from 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 22 and Dussehra from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24. Sri Laxmi Narayan Mandir is at 4615 George Road, Tampa. For information, call the temple at (813) 444-9786.

Shree Raam Mandir,7411 E. Comanche Ave., in Tampa, will celebrate nine nights from Oct. 14-22. Kanya Kumari pooja will be on Oct. 22. For information, call Nick at (813) 334-0443.

SOIKOT (Bengali Association of Greater Tampa Bay) will hold Durga Puja from 5 p.m. Oct. 20-22 at Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Community Center at 2620 Washington Road, Valrico. Lakshmi Puja will be from 6 p.m. Oct. 29 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. For details, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.soikot.org

Sri Ayyappa Society of Tampa, 6829 Maple Lane, will celebrate Durga Puja from Oct. 20 to Oct. 24. For details, call (813) 618-7278 or visit www.tampaayyappatemple.org/

DAVIE: The Indian Regional & Cultural Center (IRCC) will celebrate Navratri from 8 p.m. Oct. 14 and Oct. 21 at Indian Ridge Middle School, 1355 S Nob Hill Road, Davie. Tickets per day are $30 members, $40 non-members and can be purchased at www.irccflorida.org For information, call Dr. Durgesh Thaker at (954) 554-8739 or email [email protected]

The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will hold Navratri Garba from 8 p.m. Oct. 6 with performer Geeta Rabari at Osceola Heritage Park Events Center, 1875 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee. Tickets are $25 per person. Also, Mumbai’s Swar Sarita group will present garba Oct. 7, 20-21 at Lake Buena Vista High School, 11305 Daryl Carter Parkway, Orlando. And on Oct. 13-14, Navratri will be at Olympia High School, 4301 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando. For information, call (407) 864-3090 or to purchase tickets, visit wwww.gujaratisocietycfl.com

Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) temple will hold Navratri Utsav with music, raas and garba from 8:30 p.m. Oct. 15-24 in the community hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. Kids garba will be 7 to 8 p.m. Family pass for 10 days is $125. For more information, call Mahendra Kapadia at (407) 595-9224 or visit www.orlandohindutemple.org

The Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Navratri at 8 p.m. Oct. 20, 21, 27, 28, and Nov. 3-4 at Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S. Floral Ave., Bartow. For more information, call Subhash S. Patel at (863) 838-0969 or visit www.bscfl.com

Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple, 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, will hold Navratri garba from 8 p.m. on Oct. 21. Sharad Purnima garba will be from 8 p.m. Oct. 28. For information, call (863) 687-ISSO or visit www.issolakeland.org

India Association Cultural & Educational Center will celebrate Navratri for members only from 8 p.m. on Oct. 20-22, and Oct. 27-28 at 2030 N.E. 36th Ave., Ocala. For information, call (352) 274-0496.

The Gujarati Samaj of North East Florida will celebrate Navratri with a Gujarat live band from 8 p.m. Oct. 14, 21, 28 at Atlantic Coast High School, 9735 R.G. Skinner Parkway; and Oct. 20, 27, at St. Ephrem Church, 4650 Kernan Blvd., S. The event is $5 for members, $25 for non-members. For more information, call Vijay Patel at (904) 234-3374; to purchase tickets, visit gsnef.org

The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Navratri celebrations from 8 p.m. on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 at Viera High School, 6103 Stadium Parkway, Viera. For details, e-mail [email protected] or visit https://myiasc.com/

Also, Manav Mandir temple, 7400 Waelti Drive, Melbourne, will begin Navratri, Garba at 5 p.m. on Oct. 15. Dussehra will be celebrated from 6 p.m. on Oct. 24. For information, call (321) 426-0688 or visit www.mmbrevard.org

Disclaimer: Event details are subject to change. Please check with local organizers.


By NITISH S. RELE – [email protected]

Finding qualities such as sincerity, personal integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom and charity in a person are rare. The late Dr. Mona Jain of Bradenton/Sarasota possessed such traits and more. It was no wonder she was admired, loved and cherished by everyone who knew her.
Dr. Jain, 86, died on Feb. 28 while in India for a religious ceremony to bury the ashes of her husband Kailash Jain. “My parents were incredible individuals who left a legacy to our community where they had resided for almost 60 years,” says daughter Dr. Anila Jain, a physician/medical consultant. “As an only child, I was blessed to have such compassionate, caring and loving parents who were wonderful role models to not only me, but so many others. Their philanthropic endeavors will continue through multiple scholarships endowments to benefit students at the University of South Florida Sarasota, Manatee and systemwide.”

We had met and interviewed Dr. Mona Jain in 2019 right before the opening of the Dr. Mona Jain Middle School in the Bradenton area to honor the longtime Manatee County teacher and education leader. She had told us then, “The school is dedicated to people who believe in education, educators of past and future. I believe in helping out young boys and girls, especially young women.”

Women’s causes were dear to Dr. Jain, who was on the executive board of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and also served as president of the American Association of University Women.

Born in undivided India (Karachi) with ancestors from Punjab, she moved with her family to the capital of India where she earned a B.Ed. in Biological and Health Sciences, and a B.Sc. in Biology, Chemistry and History of Sciences, both from Delhi University. At the university, she met her husband. Their daughter was only 5 when the Jain family immigrated to the Bradenton/Sarasota area in 1964 to pursue studies on a Fulbright Scholarship that Dr. Jain had won. They were the first Indian family in Sarasota/Manatee counties, with no other Indians within 100 miles.

While her husband ran an import-export and jewelry businesses, she taught biology at Bayshore Middle and High schools from 1970 to 1982 before becoming director of family health services for Manatee County’s Head Start program. A program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to disadvantaged children and their families.
Dr. Jain’s thirst for education led her to earn a master’s in Science Education from Florida State University in 1971. Later, she received a doctorate in interdisciplinary and educational leadership from the University of South Florida in 1984. At the age of 50, she earned an M.D. from Spartan Health Sciences University School of Medicine in St. Lucia in 1987. However, instead of pursuing a career in medicine, she chose to continue to educate young minds.
Dr. Jain called education a journey, not a destination. “We live in a multicultural society and my motto is unity in diversity,” she had said. “There should be respect for human beings and for diversity since it is important to live in harmony.”

“I am proud to be American but I am equally proud of India, country of my birth,” Dr. Jain had told us. Her death leaves a huge void that cannot be filled. We and the rest of the community can only look to learn and remember those traits that made her stand out from the crowd: sincerity, integrity, humility, courtesy, wisdom and charity.




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