Annakut/Diwali celebrations will be held by the Hindu Society of Central Florida (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry on Saturday, Oct. 29. The cultural program will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by puja and aarti at 7:30 p.m. and then fireworks at 8. Mahaprasad will be served. For information, call (407) 699-5277, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.hindutempleorlando.org
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Orlando will celebrate Diwali-Annakut on Oct. 29. The BAPS temple is at 1325 W. Oakridge Road, Orlando or call (407) 857-0091.
The Association of Asian Cultural Festivals will hold its 14th annual Diwali Mela from 4 to 9 p.m. Oct. 15 at Disney Amphitheater at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. Booths offering clothes, food and jewelry will be set up at the free event. For information, call Lalman at (407) 340-0954.
Maa Durga Sri Sai Baba Temple will celebrate New Year’s Day (annakut) with puja, bhajans and aarti on Oct. 27. The mandir is at 11414 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando. For information, call (407) 574-8044, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.durgasaitemple.org
Shri Shivdham Hindu Temple will celebrate Diwali 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, with Maha Laxmi Puja. On Oct. 30, the mandir will hold Annakut (108 dishes of food) from noon. The temple is at 460 O’Berry Hoover Road, Orlando. For information, call (407) 380.2661 or visit www.shivtemple.net
Horizon of Indian Culture will present a free Grand Diwali Mela from 4 to 10 p.m. Oct. 15 at Ocoee High School, 1925 Ocoee Crown Point, Ocoee. Miss Diwali will be crowned during the Diwali Pageant. For more information, call Harry Singh at (321) 662-1887 or Seeta Singh at (407) 814-7501 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Shree Jalaram Mandir will celebrate the New Year on at 7 p.m. on Oct. 27. The temple is at 600 Hull Island Drive, Oakland. For information, call (407) 654-0707 or visit www.jalarammandirorlando.orgThe Orlando Marathi Mandal will hold Deepawali on Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Hindu Society of Central Florida community hall (1994 Lake Drive) in Casselberry. For information, call (407) 767-2516, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.orlandomarathi.com
SOUTH FLORIDA AREA
FORT LAUDERDALE: Indian Religious & Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold its annual Festival of Lights from noon to 10 p.m. Nov. 19 at Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. On the agenda are music, dance, workshops, Indian food and jewelry, clothing. There is a $3 entry fee. For information, call Sanjay Gupta at (954) 461-4003, Rupal Shukla at (954) 967-8388 or visit www.ircc-florida.org
BOYNTON BEACH: The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Boynton Beach will celebrate Diwali on Oct. 29 with Annakut Darshan. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is at 541 S.E. 18th Ave., Boynton Beach. For information, call (561) 740-2898 or visit www.swaminarayan.org
OAKLAND PARK: The Shiva Mandir, 3000 N.W. 29th Ave., Oakland Park, will hold a Grand Diwali Celebration from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. For more information, call Vijay Persad at (954) 475-3949, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.fhosm.com
And the Bengali Association of South Florida will hold a Diwali Party on Oct. 29. For information, visit www.basfl.org
TAMPA BAY AREA
The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Diwali on Oct. 29 from 5 p.m. with dinner at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road. Entertainment will be provided by Charenjeet and Group from California (www.charenjeet.com). The dinner and entertainment is free for Samaj members. Non-members pay $25 and students with ID pay $15, which includes dinner. There also will be a Samaj election. For more information, call Samaj President Dr. Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439 or visit www.gujaratisamaj.org
And the Hindu Temple of Florida will hold a Diwali cultural program from 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, in its community hall, 5509 Lynn Road, Tampa. It will be followed by Mahaprasadam and fireworks. For more information, call (813) 962-6890 or visit www.hindutempleofflorida.org
Also, The Sanatan Mandir in Tampa will hold Laxmi Puja at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Dev Annakut will be from 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 27. There also will be Diwali and New Year fireworks at the mandir, 311 E. Palm Ave. For information, call (813) 221-4482 or visit www.sanatanmandir.org
Ambaji Mandir at 10991 58th St., in Pinellas Park, will hold Diwali, Dhan Teras, Lakshmi Puja from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 23. The celebrations will continue till Oct. 26, when Badi Diwali will be celebrated. The Gujarati New Year will be on Oct. 27. For more information, call the mandir at (727) 388-6685, (727) 537-9445 or visit www.ambajimandir.org
Maayboli Melawa Tampa Bay (MMTB) will celebrate Diwali on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Hindu Temple of Florida community hall, 5509 Lynn Road. If interested in participating in the cultural program, e-mail Sheila Kedar at email@example.com For details, call (813) 597-3604, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit www.maaybolitampabay.org
Annakut Utsav will be celebrated at Pushtidham (Haveli of Florida), 14080 S.W. 20th Ave. Road, in Ocala. For details, call (973) 460-5936 or Raj Kamdar at (352) 568-5729.
The India Cultural and Education Center (ICEC) will hold a celebration of festivals of India on Nov. 19. A cultural program will be followed by the Diwali/Eid dinner. ICEC is at 1115 S.W. 13th St., Gainesville. For information, call Dr. Bhavani Sankar at (352) 374-4382, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.icec-florida.org/
Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, 2793 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, will hold a Annakut Utsav on Thursday, Oct. 27. For information, call (863) 687-4776 or (863) 529-1146 or e-mail email@example.com
The Charotar Patidar Samaj will present its third annual Diwali Dinner and Dance from 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at The Trinkle Center, Hillsborough Community College, Plant City Campus, 1206 N. Park Blvd., Plant City. Entertainment will be provided by Amit Ganguly and group, Kolkata. Tickets are $25 per person. For information, call Jayesh Patel at (407) 460-2020, Kamal Patel at (863) 670-1045, visit www.patelpower.net or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Diwali on Oct. 30 at Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S. Floral Ave., Bartow. For more information, call Jayant J. Patel at (863) 802-1868 or Sandeep Bosmia at (863) 205-5929 or visit www.bscfl.com
The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Diwali and annual dinner from 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Melbourne Auditorium, 625 Hibiscus Blvd. For more information, visit www.iascbrevard.com
The Gujarati Samaj of North East Florida will celebrate Diwali on Oct. 23 at Morocco Shrine Auditorium, 3800 Saint Johns Bluff Road S., Jacksonville. For information, call Bakulesh Patel at (904) 813-9616, Bipin Patel at (904) 260-7675, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.gsnef.org
The Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will hold its Diwali Gala Saturday, Nov. 19, at the University of North Florida Arena, 11852 University of North Florida Drive. Seating and social hour begin at 3 p.m. with the show at 4. There will be food, dance and music. For details, call (904) 638-2918, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.jaxics.org
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Jacksonville will celebrate Diwali-Annakut on Oct. 29. The BAPS temple is at 7500 Merrill Road, Jacksonville. For details, call (904) 744-5352.
The Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville will celebrate Diwali with Lakshmi Puja and Chopda Vasan Puja from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., bhajans and aarti followed by Prasad thereafter, and fireworks at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Annakut, Govardhan Puja will be from 6 p.m. onward on Thursday, Oct. 27. The temple is at 4968 Greenland Road. For information, call (904)-269-1155 or visit www.jaxhindutemple.org
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PADMA BHUSHAN DR. YESUDAS AND SON VIJAY TO PERFORM OCT. 29 IN TAMPA
Padma Bhushan Dr. K.J. Yesudas and son Vijay will perform Saturday, Oct. 29 for the first time in Tampa. The 6 p.m. concert is a tribute of sorts organized by the Malayalee Association of Central Florida (MACF) for Dr. Yesudas’ 50-year dedication to the music industry. Adored and praised by innumerable fans as “Gana Ghandarva” – the celestial singer supreme – Dr. Yesudas is recipient of numerous prizes and commendations, state and national awards.
“We will be welcoming the music legend along with his son Vijay with a procession at 5:30 p.m. before our scheduled multilingual concert,” said Sheela Kutty, MACF treasurer.
The 6 p.m. concert will be at Sickles High School (near Westfield Citrus Park mall), 7950 Gunn Highway. Tickets range from $50 per person up to $250 for VIP family of four. Sponsorships are available. For information, call Sheela Kutty at (727) 943-5774, Sunney Mattamana at (813) 334-1293 or visit www.macftampa.org to purchase tickets.
NAVRATRI CONTINUES IN FLORIDA
The Gujarati Society of Central Florida will hold Garba from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 at Lyman High School, 865 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood. Performing groups are Lakhia Brothers and Raj Pandya. It is free for society members. For information, call Nilkanth Kapadia at (407) 832-3835, Sunil Patel at (407) 474-4773, Sunil Panchal at (386) 479-3055, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.gujaratisocietycfl.com
Also, the Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) temple will present Navratri at 8 p.m. daily through Oct. 6 with evening and midnight pujas, garba and dandiya dance in the community hall, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. Snacks will be available at the canteen stall. For more information, call the temple at (407) 699-5277, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hindutempleorlando.org
Shree Jalaram Mandir will hold garba daily from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Oct. 5. Dussera Havan will be at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6. The temple is at 600 Hull Island Drive, Oakland. For information, call (407) 654-0707 or visit www.jalarammandirorlando.org
And Maa Durga Sri Sai Baba Temple will present Navratri Garba & Raas from 8:30 p.m. to midnight (10:30 p.m. aarti) Oct. 1 at JCC Hall, 11184 S. Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, which is in close vicinity to the temple. Performing will be a seven-star group from Ahmedabad. On Oct. 4, Raj and Smruti Pandya Group from Chicago will perform at JCC. For information, call (407) 437-6709, (407) 461-8174, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.durgasaitemple.org
PEMBROKE PINES: The Indian Religious & Cultural Center (IRCC), Gujarati Samaj of South Florida and South Florida Leuva Patidar Samaj will celebrate Navratri 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8 at Silver Trail Middle School, 18300 Sheridan St., Pembroke Pines. For more information, call Sanjay Gupta at (954) 461-4003 or visit www.irccflorida.com
SUNRISE: The Bengali Association of South Florida is organizing Durga Pujo Oct. 1-2 at Westpine Middle School, 9393 N.W. 50th St. (just south of Commercial Boulevard near the Sawgrass Expressway, in between Nob Hill Road and Pine Island Road). Flossix live band and Torsha Sarkar of “Indian Idol” fame will perform Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 respectively. For details, call (954) 646-5957, (954) 646-8238, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.basfl.org
OAKLAND PARK: The Shiva Mandir, 3000 N.W. 29th Ave., Oakland Park, has scheduled a Navratri Yagya from 6:30 p.m. till 9 p.m. through Oct. 6. For more information, call (954) 735-3560, (954) 854-6929, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.fhosm.com
SOUTH FLORIDA AREA: The Chinmaya Mission Miami will hold Navratri celebrations at various locations during its Chinmaya Bala Vihar Prayer Assembly. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cmmiami.org
TAMPA BAY AREA
The Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay will celebrate Navratri on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 N. U.S. 301. On Sunday, Oct. 2, the festivities move to India Cultural Center (ICC), 5511 Lynn Road. Musicians will be Hemant Chauhan and group. The festival of nine nights also will be held on Friday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 9, at ICC. On Saturday, Oct. 8, the garba will be at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Musicians will be Lalit Sodha and group. The event is free for Samaj members. Non-members pay $20 per night and students pay $10 per night. For more information, call Samaj President Dr. Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439 or visit www.gujaratisamaj.org
Vijaya Dashami will be celebrated Oct. 6 at the Hindu Temple of Florida, 5509 Lynn Road. For information, call (813) 962-6890.
The Sanatan Mandir at 311 E. Palm Ave. will hold Navratri Chandi Havan from 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8. During the Ram Lila and Ravan Dahan, there will be an Anand Mela, food booths and games for children. For details, call the temple at (813) 221-4482.
Also, SOIKOT (Bengali Society of Tampa Bay) will hold a Durga Puja on Oct. 8-9 at ICC on Lynn Road in Tampa. Performing on Oct. 9 will be the popular Bangla band Bhoomi. For more information, call Jyotirmoy Sarkar at (813) 971-0564, Raja Sarker at (813) 994-5834, e-mail Soikot_florida@yahoo.com or visit www.soikot.org
Ambaji Mandir at 10991 58th St., in Pinellas Park, will celebrate Navratri with daily garba program and Prasad from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. through Oct. 6. For more information, call the mandir at (727) 388-6685, (727) 537-9445 or visit www.ambajimandir.org
And Vishnu Mandir in Tampa will celebrate Nau Kanya Poojan (Maha Naumi, which is the last day of Navratri) at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5. The temple is at 5803 Lynn Road. For information, call MJ at (727) 946-8144 or Shantia Singh at (727) 492-1010.
The Hindu Temple of Southwest Florida, 12552 Plantation Road, Fort Myers, will hold Navratri celebrations with daily prayers through Oct. 6. For details, call (239) 561-5866, (239) 574-2501, (239) 404-6638 or visit www.hindutempleswfl.com
Ujanee, the Bengali community association of Gainesville, will host its fourth annual Durga Puja, Durgotsav 2011 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 8, at the Indian Cultural and Education Center, 1115 S.W. 13th St., Gainesville. Admission is free for the event, which is open to everyone. Food tickets for lunch may be purchased at http://ujaneedurgotsav2011.eventbrite.com. For details, visit www.ujanee.org
Navratri display is up through Oct. 31 at Thomas Center, 302 N.E. Sixth Ave., Gainesville. Also, garba is being celebrated Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14 at Kanapaha Middle School auditorium, 5005 S.W. 75th St., Gainesville. For information, call Dr. Shaheda Qaiyumi at (352) 373-4127, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.icec-florida.org
The Gujarati Samaj of North East Florida will celebrate Navratri from 8 p.m. till midnight Oct. 7-8 and Oct. 14-15 at Twin Lakes Academy Middle School, 8050 Point Meadows Drive, Jacksonville. For information, call Bakulesh Patel at (904) 813-9616, Bipin Patel at (904) 260-7675, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gsnef.org
On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Hindu Society of North East Florida in Jacksonville will celebrate Durgashtami with Shri Lalitha Sahasrana Puja from 6 to 7 p.m. followed by aarti and Hanuman Chalisa, and Durga Puja and Garba from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Vijaya Dashami and Dassera festivities will be held on Thursday, Oct. 6, with Shri Rama Pattabhishek and Shami Puja from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m., Dussera special cultural program from 7.30 to 8.15 p.m., followed by aarti and prasad. The temple is at 4968 Greenland Road, Jacksonville. For information, call (904)-269-1155 or visit www.jaxhindutemple.org
The Indian Association of the Space Coast will hold Navratri celebrations Oct. 1, Oct. 8 and Oct. 15 at Viera High School, 6103 Stadium Parkway, Viera (incorporated part of Melbourne area). For more information, call Hitesh Patel at (321) 961-7776 or visit www.iascbrevard.com
BARTOW/WINTER HAVEN/HAINES CITY/LAKELAND
The Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Navratri on Oct. 1, Oct. 7-9, at Bartow Civic Center, 2250 S. Floral Ave., Bartow. For more information, call Jayant J. Patel at (863) 802-1868 or Sandeep Bosmia at (863) 205-5929 or visit www.bscfl.com
DAYTONA BEACH/ORMOND BEACH
The Indian Cultural Society of Daytona will hold Garba/Dandiya Raas 7 to 11:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8, at South Ormond Neighborhood Center, 176 Division Ave., Ormond Beach. For more information, call President Rita Patel at (386) 795-0008 or visit www.icsdaytona.com
The Art of Arangetram – A Rite of Summer IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
It all began with one art form – Bharatnatyam, two teachers, four musicians, seven students and 14 parents working together in harmony for several years. Arangetram is the official introduction of the danseuse to the community; Akhila Reddy, Shilpa Reddy, Meera Aggarwal, Shivani Mehta, Niyati Shah, Anupa Thirmiya and Anushree Marar performed their Arangetrams recently. This summer, at separate events, the dancers enthralled the audience with their artistry of the fine techniques of storytelling through expression, gestures and footwork. Each Arangetram had more than 500 guests, and with the decorations done in a grand manner, a parent added it is like planning for a wedding – including elaborate costumes, photographs, invitations, and musicians for performance and dinner.
The two teachers Geeta Raaj and Satyabhama are legendary for transforming girls into accomplished dancers. Bharatnatyam is a thousand of years old classical dance that originated in South India, generally the themes are religious and convey complex emotions. Raaj remarked that she teaches the meaning of the dance with examples. “They observe my expressions or tap into their heartfelt feelings, it gives them the liberty to learn, copy and produce with their own emotions, the desired expression for the actions needed,” she said. Shilpa and Akhila Reddy performed traditional and classical dances at their Arangetram. Akhila's dance of Ayegiri Nandini was moving as she showed the transformation of Parvati from a gentle goddess to Mahisasura Mardhini who symbolized Shakti power in the destruction of evil. Shilpa's Shiva Tandatav explaining the dance of Shiva was portrayed with emotive expressions.
This dance graduation takes place after several years of study; Satyabhama said that her students “have developed a keen appreciation of our Indian dance and philosophy. I am honored to pass on the rich traditions and dance styles of the Kalakshetra Academy.” One of her students, Meera Aggarwal, was inspired to learn when she saw Viji and Mythili Prakash dance and also by her mother, Gauri, an accomplished dancer herself. In a new twist to the tradition, Gauri and Meera performed a dance based on Ramacharitmanas by sant Tulsidas. The graceful and expressive dance by the twosome got a standing ovation. The original choreography was a team effort with both of them and Satyabhama. Through dance, Gauri said, “Meera developed a strong appreciation for Indian art and culture, and got a comprehensive understanding of Hinduism.” All girls agreed that without the support of their parents and family, they would not have been able to put in years of practice. They were driven around Orlando several times a week to their dance classes and practice at the Hindu Temple and Chinmaya Mission in Casselberry.
Many of the members in the audience were classmates from high schools who came with their parents and expressed admiration of the performances, dedication and talent of these seven girls. Shivani Mehta, who has been studying for eight years with Raaj, started the program with both a Sanskrit prayer to Sri Ganesh as well as a Punjabi prayer to Satguru Shri Guru Nanakji. She said, “Most people think of bhangra when they hear the word Punjabi. I wanted people to see a piece that was folk-based, but displayed a sense of eternal love … I wanted to incorporate Baba Bulleh Shah, one of my favorite Punjabi, Sufi poets into my Arangetram.” She plans to continue to train with Raaj. Shivani said, “It was difficult to grasp this dance form but Geeta auntie did a great job of explaining things. I learned a lot about Hinduism and Bharatnatyam was a way for me to learn about another religion and its culture.”
Learning Bharatnatyam took years of training, Anushree Marar said: “Hard work pays off. I had to put in lots of hours of practice. It taught me time management and the importance of setting goals in life.” This focus helps in academics too; Anupa Thirmiya, who has been dancing for eight years, thinks the same sense of dedication will help her through four years of medical school. The maturity levels of the dancers are amazing, Niyati Shah said. “I realize that I certainly am not the only one who is shedding all this sweat, blood, and tears. My parents and grandparents have been right by me all this time, and given me support and encouragement. They asked me what gift I want for Arangetram, and I have an answer – I already have a gift: my extraordinary parents.” All three girls showed amazing talent and artistry in their dance performances.
The two teachers will continue to train more dancers: Satyabhama will now teach in Houston, and Raaj will continue in Florida. “I have learnt dance for five decades from gurus of great caliber of the Tanjavore bani, Guru Kuppiah Pillai – these gurus have instilled in me the values required to learn dance in the most traditional way. I wish to share this with the younger generation,” said Raaj.
Meera Aggarwal’s advice to the younger students is, “It takes a lot more than showing up. I would not have been able to do it if I didn't love it. Expose yourself to the art form as much as you can. Go to every Bharatnatyam performance that comes to town, go on YouTube, and observe how your teacher dances. Soak it in!” At each Arangetram, well-known musicians from India performed.
In the next three months, Central Florida will hold two dance events: on Oct. 15, the Telugu Association of Greater Orlando will host its annual classical dance festival at the Hindu Temple in Casselberry, and the Gujarati Society of Central Florida Dance Competition will be Dec. 3 at the Orlando Convention Center.
ASIAN CULTURAL ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JASBIR MEHTA (MOTHER OF SHIVANI MEHTA) ON BHARATNATYAM:
Never before has this art form been more popular and vibrant. It is spreading all over the world, and with this growth comes an expansion in subject matters ready to be presented on stage. Tradition and innovation, issues old and new, and aspects humanistic and spiritual are jostling for attention in the dialogue taking place on many stages through the language of Bharatnatyam. People are also using this media to explore new themes such as women's rights (the ACA show Ekantha Sita of 2006), poverty, AIDS, the environment (the ACA show The Living Tree of 2003), and war. Some dancers have explored wholly devotional themes, while others go completely against this grain. What all this means is that Bharatnatyam is alive and well. It is vibrant, healthy, thriving and dynamic and at the most exciting stage of its more than 2,000-year majestic journey.
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