Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


By NITISH S. RELE, [email protected]


Chairman Vijay Gandhi

Chairman Vijay Gandhi

One name, one logo, one trophy. Forever. That’s the new campaign to kick off the 29th annual India Festival Tampa Bay on Saturday, Nov. 5, according to Chairman Vijay Gandhi. “It is the biggest, oldest and largest event in America but still not popular nationally,” he said.

Executive Vice Chair Malti Pandya

Executive Vice Chair Malti Pandya

“We are promoting our Indian culture and traditions so we can pass them on to the next generation. And it is 100 percent volunteer-based.

“More than 15,000 people are expected to attend this iconic and history-making event,” said Gandhi who believes that though several cities have been duplicating the India Festival model, nobody has been successful. “We want to differentiate,” he said. “Yes, it is well-known in the Southeast but to gain national and international attention, we have to think of branding and marketing. Toward that goal, we have introduced a logo that will represent our heritage. This is just the beginning of a new legacy.”

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who will be attending the opening ceremony as keynote speaker, is thrilled that after the 2014 International Indian Film Academy Awards (IIFA), India Festival will bring 15,000 people from all over the Southeast to the city. “There is something for everyone here,” he said. “I invite all to come take a tour of India. And the impact India Festival makes to the Tampa Bay area is $5 million.”

New logo and trophy

Dr. Kiran Patel, one of the pioneers of the annual event, said, “India Festival has evolved to something we can be proud of. We started with 4,000 people at the first fest 29 years ago in the USF SunDome and now over 15,000 at the fairgrounds with significant magnitude and size.”

Apart from the logo, first-, second- and third-prize winners will receive custom-made, “Oscar-like” 14-, 13- and 12-inch trophies; all 1,087 participants will be given 9-inch trophies too. In fact, a trophy tower will be set up on the stage. Also, a first will be a Selfie Room flanked by huge logos for the public and participants to take pictures; and a Wall of Sponsors (50 and counting) in the vicinity of the health fair.

In the entertainment area, performers will be adorned in colorful attire for four categories of dance competition – garba, raas, folk and bhangra. Several closed-circuit TV monitors will be set up so people can shop and eat while watching the dances.

Indian-American communities from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala among others will be participating in dozens of competitions.

Special guest will be Arun Kumar Singh, Indian ambassador to the U.S. And all the judges for the entertainment will be celebrities in their own right, with names such as Ms. India MWI International 2013 Simran Ahuja and Maaza Miss India New York 2007 Neha Multani. Amid breaks between acts, Om Vaidya (Chatur of “3 Idiots” fame will keep the attendees in splits with mimicry. After the dance performances, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa finalist Jugpreet Bajwa will present a live concert.

Nearly 180 booths will offer clothes, jewelry, film DVDs and music CDs, arts and crafts, photo studio and home décor. There also will be numerous eateries selling delicacies such as samosas, bhel puri, chicken curry and dosas. Another first at the daylong health fair/awareness program is a bone marrow registration drive. Also, 15 volunteer-physicians will conduct peripheral arterial disease, blood and A1C (blood sugar) tests.

The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and will be attended by Buckhorn, city council members and Dr. Kiran C. Patel. Zee TV is the title sponsor of the festival. It will continue till 11 p.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. Tickets are $9 for adults; $5 for children 4 to 11 years of age. Parking is $6 per car. For information, call Vijay Gandhi at (863) 287-7970, email [email protected] or visit

Khaas Baat Business Beat
A partnership with Indo-US Chamber of Commerce, Tampa

Photo credit: IRCC



FORT LAUDERDALE: The Indian Regional and Cultural Center will hold its Diwali festivities from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. The program will include Bollywood, folk, classical music and dance, IRCC Children Show, and dance competitions. Other attractions are food, fashion, jewelry, arts and crafts, henna, yoga, kids’ zone and raffle prizes. For information, call Sanjay Gupta at (954) 461-4003, Dr. Durgesh Thaker at (954) 554-8739, e-mail [email protected] or visit

PALM BEACH: The Palm Beach India Association will hold a Diwali Mela on Nov. 13 at Amara Shrine Temple, 3650 RCA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens. The free daylong event will feature food, dances, games, rides and competitions for adults and children. For details, email [email protected] or visit

SOUTHWEST RANCHES: South Florida Hindu Temple will celebrate Annakoot from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 6. The mandir is at 13010 W. Griffin Road, Southwest Ranches. For information, call (954) 252-8802 or visit


Gujarati Association of Manasota will hold its Diwali cultural program and dinner on Nov. 6 from 4 p.m. onward at Bayshore High School, 5401 34th St. W., Bradenton. It is free for association members and $25 for non-members per person. For information, call Rina Patel at (941) 518-3462 or visit


Annakut celebrations will begin from 4 p.m. with cultural program on Nov. 5 at the Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry. For information, call (407) 699-5277, e-mail [email protected], or visit

Orlando Marathi Mandal will be celebrating Diwali from 4 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the Hindu Society of Central Florida community hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. For details, call (281) 912-4907 or e-mail [email protected]

Shri Shiv Dham Hindu Temple will hold Anakut at 9 a.m. on Nov. 6. The mandir is at 460 O’Berry Hoover Road, Orlando. For information, call (407) 380-2661, e-mail [email protected] or visit


Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay is hosting a Diwali Dinner and Annual Election on Nov. 12 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road. The event, which begins at 4 till 11 p.m., is free to GSTB members; non-members are $20 per person. Entertainment will be by Orchestra Music Lovers consisting four musicians and four singers, including reality show singer Hardik Shah, who will be accompanied by Kirit, Bhupali Mehta and Sanjay Desai. Check-in and election booth will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Hindu Temple of Florida next door. Dinner will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. For information, call GSTB President Jigisha Desai at (813) 731-7747.

Telugu Association of Florida, Tampa Bay, will celebrate Deepavali from 5 p.m. Nov. 19 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. For details, call Dr. Neeraja Jasthi at (813) 789-4976 or visit

Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB), a not-for-profit organization for promoting Marathi culture, is celebrating Diwali from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 12 at HCC Campus Auditorium - Brandon, 10414 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa. MMTB members will be showcasing their talent through various instrumental, vocal and dance performances. Free for current members; non-members can attend with a ticket. For information, visit or email [email protected]


Annakut darshan will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 6 at Pushtidham (Haveli of Florida), 14080 S.W. 20th Ave. Road, in Ocala. For details, call (352) 307-0065 or email [email protected]


Gujarati Samaj of Southwest Florida will hold a Diwali dinner/concert featuring disco king and veteran music director Bappi Lahiri on Nov. 12. Dinner will start at 6 p.m. with the concert at 8:30 at Golden Gate High School, 2925 Titan Way, Naples. Tickets are $15 per person for paid society members; non-members are $40 per person. For information, call Anand Patel at (239) 410-3485 or Dharmesh Patel at (239) 826-8082.


Indian Student Association of University of Florida will hold its Diwali show on Nov. 13 at Curtis M. Phillips Center, 3201 Hull Road, Gainesville. Doors open at 6. For more information, email [email protected]


Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold its Absolute Diwali from 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 at Morocco Shine Center Auditorium, 3800 Saint Johns Bluff Road S. There will be food, dance and music. Tickets are $30 per person. For details, e-mail or visit


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