Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News


Sheli Chakraborty ModakSheli Chakraborty Modak of Coral Springs recently won the Kala Ratna Samman award at Natarajotsav 2019 in Kolkata. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (Kolkata), an cultural external affairs arm of the government of India, presented the award during the international classical dance festival. Previously, the Coral Springs resident has been awarded Sangeet Ratna and Sangeet Bivhakar in Kathak and Rabindra Nritya from Bangiya Sangeet Parishad. 

The director of Sheli’s Dance Academy has been teaching Indian classical/folk dance for nearly 10 years. “Mid-year, I was fortunate to present the first-ever Rangmanch Pravesh of Kathak in the South Florida area,” she says.

She is married to Dilip Modak and they have two children.


KAYASTHASThe Kayastha Association of Florida (USA) held a first-ever Chitragupta puja Nov. 3 for Chitransh families at Ambaji Mandir in Pinellas Park. Lord Chitragupta is the primary deity of the Kayastha and responsible for maintaining a detailed record of every human’s doing.

The association hosted the event, especially for younger generation to preserve the culture and heritage of Kayasthas outside India. The goal was to reveal identities and the core value of Kayastha social group and their contributions in local community.

KAYASTHASAs per tradition, several stationery items such as paper, pen, ink, honey, betel nuts, pan leaves, matches, ginger, jiggery, sandalwood and nayavadya/bhog were used to complete the rituals. Participating members, including children, wrote down their earnings and expenditures on a piece of paper. These reports were submitted to Lord Chitragupta in hopes of balancing the sheet.

For more information on the association, call Dr. Rajiv Sahay at (727) 488-4001.


Pehchaan of Tampa Bay held a symposium Nov. 16 on Suicide Prevention and Opioid Dependency. It was graced by expert professionals – Dr. Suresh Unni (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), Dr. Ben Ghozali (clinical psychologist) and Danae Dockery (Licensed Mental Health Counselor).

Dr. Unni spoke about his own trauma of losing a younger adult brother to suicide. It was touching to see that this event has defined his life and that he has made his goal to help others who are prone to the same mental illness he and his brother went through. His points on the myths of suicide were eye-opening.

The afternoon was dedicated to discussions about opioid addiction, which is prevalent throughout the nation and is an emergency. Susan Korabek and Laurie Serra from NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education) talked passionately about the prevention as they both lost their sons to opioid overdose. They emphasized that one need not be an addict to die from it. Experimenting a dangerous drug will end a life too.

Dockery touched upon the loss of her friend for the same reason and now she helps her patients overcome it. Ghozali talked about the "Unthinkable Reality" – suicide. The statistics for suicide happenings are staggering. There is an attempt every 27 seconds and one dies every 11 minutes. Mental illness is one of the main reasons and the others are trauma, divorce and adverse childhood experience.

Story provided by Muktha Ravi

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