Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Feature Story


By NITISH S. RELE, [email protected]

This month, several communities in Florida will be celebrating India’s Republic Day (India adopted its Constitution on Jan. 26, 1950). Here are some of the cities holding celebrations in the Sunshine State:

TAMPA: The Federation of India Associations (FIA) of Tampa Bay will hold its Republic Day event from 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. Flag-hoisting will be held around 2 followed by the parade and cultural program. At the free event, there will be a kid’s carnival, booths showcasing Indian states, Indian arts, crafts, clothes, jewelry, and food on sale, entertainment program, rangoli competition, children’s activities and a sports competition. For more information, call Gopa Rautray at (813) 991-5234, Manish Kharod at (813) 963-0616, Rashmi Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172 or visit www.fia-tampabay.com

ORLANDO: The Indian American Chamber of Commerce will hold an India Republic Day Networking Event from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, at the India Blue restaurant at 8282 International Drive. The event is free for members; non-members pay $15. To sponsor the event, call Tino Patel at (407) 579-5050; RSVP at [email protected] or visit www.iaccorlando.com

JACKSONVILLE: The Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will celebrate India Day from 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 5, at Atlantic Coast High School (near 9A and Baymeadows Road), Jacksonville. The highlights are a musical comedy drama “ABCD vs. DCBA” and the India Quiz. To participate or for more information, e-mail [email protected], [email protected] or visit www.jaxics.org

GAINESVILLE: The youth group of the India Cultural & Education Center in Gainesville will hold its Republic Day event on Saturday, Jan. 29, at the center, 1115 S.W. 13th St. For details, call (352) 379-2911 or visit www.icec-florida.org

TALLAHASSEE: To commemorate Republic Day, India Assoication of Tallahassee (IATLH) will be hosting a Sit-Down & Draw Contest for all members on Saturday, Jan. 29, between 1 and 2 p.m. in Meeting Rooms A and B at the Leroy Collins Leon County Public Library, 200 W Park Avenue, Tallahassee. Thereafter, IATLH will observe Republic Day at 2 p.m. Also, a General Body Meeting will be held at 3 p.m. in the same venue. For more information, visit www.iatlh.org

SOUTH FLORIDA: The Indian Religious and Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold an Anand Bazaar in Broward County to celebrate India’s Republic Day on Sunday, Jan. 30. Time and venue are being finalized. For information, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.irccflorida.com

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The festival goes by several names. It’s Makarsankrant. Or Uttarayan. Or Lohri. Or Pongal. The kite-flying day will be celebrated by several communities in Florida. Here are a few:

TAMPA: The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Uttarayan from 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at Rowlett Park, 2548 River Hills Drive (near intersection of east River Hills Drive and Rowlett Park Road). The Samaj will sell kites and thread. Refreshment snacks and lunch will be served. Food will be provided by the Samaj. The event is free for 2011 Samaj members; for more information, call Samaj President Dr. Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439 or visit www.gujaratisamaj.org

Also, the Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB) will hold its annual Makar Sankrant program from 4 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, at Carrolwood Cultural Center Annex, 13345 Casey Road, Tampa. On the agenda is a film and haldi-kunku. For information, e-mail [email protected] or call (813) 655-5900.

And the Sanatan Mandir, 311 E. Palm Avenue, Tampa, will celebrate Lohri from 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16. For information, call the temple at (813) 221-4482.

The Hindu Temple of Florida, 5509 Lynn Road, in Tampa will celebrate Makarsankrant on Friday, Jan. 14. For details, call the mandir at (813) 962-6890.

ORLANDO: The Gujarati Society of Central Florida Uttarayan will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16, at Ralph V. Chisholm Regional Park, 4700 Chisholm Park Trail, in St. Cloud. For more information, call Nilkanth Kapadia at (407) 832-3835 or visit www.gujaratisocietycfl.com

Also, the Hindu Society of Central Florida, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry, will celebrate Makarsankrant at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14. For more information, call Dr. Rajesh Patel at (407) 687-8576, Sreenivas Jarugula at (407) 267-7595 or visit www.hindutempleorlando.org

FORT MYERS: The Hindu Temple of Southwest Florida, 12552 Plantation Road, Fort Myers, will hold Makar Sankrant and Pongal Pooja at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 15. For information, call (239) 482-0677, (239) 274-5584 or (239) 466-5236, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.hindutempleswfl.com

MELBOURNE (SPACE COAST AREA): The date has not been fixed at the time of going to the press but the Indian Association of the Space Coast (IASC) will celebrate the kite-flying festival. For details, visit www.iascbrevard.com

JACKSONVILLE: The Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville will hold a Makarsankrant and Lord Ayyappa Puja. For dates and time, call the temple at (904) 268-7630.


The Rhythm of Rajasthan will perform Saturday, Jan. 15, in Fort Lauderdale. The ensemble with its enthralling music and dance hails from the windswept Great Thar Desert in Rajasthan.

Musicians from the Langa (“song giver”) and Manghaniyar hereditary groups of itinerant entertainers present vibrant and joyous folk music, encompassing driving percussion, ecstatic Sufi songs, and hypnotic sarangi (bowed lute) and algoza (doubleflute). They are joined by a dancer from Kalbelia community as well.

The program has been organized by the Association of Performing Arts of India (APAI).

The musical journey will begin at 7 p.m. at Broward Center for the Performing Arts (Amaturo Theater), 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets range from $25 to $60. For more information, call the center at (954) 462-0222 or visit www.browardcenter.org; also, call APAI at (954) 885-1466, visit www.apaiart.com or email [email protected]




In April this year, Manoranjan the radio show out of Central Florida will celebrate its 20-year anniversary. Though hosted by Shobana Daniell (Sanskar the Radio Magazine) every Friday from 7 to 8 p.m. and by Vinod Vasudeva (the original Manoranjan) every Saturday from 6:05 to 8 p.m. on 1440 AM WPRD, the show owes its origin to Vasudeva’s wife Kusum, who died on March 28, 2007.

A native of Mumbai, Vasudeva earned his master’s degree in economics at Delhi University. After a brief visit to the United States, he returned in 1973 with Kusum, whom he had known since 1962. “We’d come on an extended honeymoon to New York, opportunities rose and we stayed back,” remembers Vasudeva as we chat in his Longwood/Orlando area living room, surrounded by family photographs and of course hundreds of audio cassettes and CDs. “I ran my imports company, Vasudeva International, for 4-5 years. Then circumstances pushed us into exports for some more years before we moved to Miami in 1982.”

A year later, the couple headed to Orlando. “The reason is Kusum liked Orlando very much and being the henpecked husband I was, I caved in,” laughs Vasudeva. “Subsequently, I started my own exports company. In 1990, I was asked by the India Association of Greater Orlando to go on a radio program to announce the winner of their competition. I guess people liked what they heard and quite a few folks asked me to start a radio show.”

And that is how Manoranjan, named by Kusum, kicked off in 1991, first for 30 minutes, then gradually to an hour, hour and a half and now two hours. In his Delhi days, Vasudeva had been active in stage and fashion shows, conducing music and party nights. “We also had a group Betaab, which used to sing ghazals, American songs,” he reminisces. “I even did a few stints on All India Radio.”

Manoranjan began primarily as a service to the community. In those days, there was no platform to bring the community made up of different ethnicities together. “But the backbone of the show was Kusum,” credits Vasudeva. “She was the one who would contact advertisers, sponsors, do all the administrative work. And on the day of the show, she would put the program together and I would just go on and babble.”

And his biggest fan and critic was Kusum, who never visited the radio station. “She wanted to hear her creation in reality to see what it sounded like,” reasons Vasudeva. “At that time, there were only LPs and cassettes and I didn’t have time to organize.”

But Kusum trained both daughters Anjali and Aditi to cue songs to start upon the radio show host’s instruction. The Vasudevas also have two sons: Vivek and Varun. “In this show, there is no hypocrisy of emotions; but a lot of integrity,” says Vasudeva with pride. “Kusum was a very, very private person but in promoting me to do these activities that she herself would’ve liked to do, it led us to the creation of India Showcase, a daylong festival showing music and dance on the stage.”

In 2008, Manoranjan ambitiously expanded to six days a week to offer an opportunity to different organizations in Central Florida to inform listeners of activities. But now that has been curtailed to two days a week: on Fridays, Shobana Daniell presents in-depth interviews with professionals and experts; on Saturdays, Vasudeva presents what he calls “an environment of love, masti and hungama.”

So for some love, masti and hungama once a week, visit www.manoranjan.net or www.wprd.com

CALL 813-758-1786.
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