AUGUST 2023
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News

Shirdi Sai Temple in Inverness reopens with Maha Kumbhabhishekam celebrations

More than 4,000 devotees visited over 5 days

By Chandra Patel

Maha Kumbhabhiskekam ceremonies took place July 5-9. The Shirdi Sai Temple in Inverness had been closed for several months after lightning damaged the steeple and mandir structure.

Many months of intensive planning and teaming with experienced devotees from the Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa left nothing to chance. A detailed five-day program was prepared.

The event was a huge undertaking that involved fundraising, ordering and receiving supplies from India, staffing the pujaris, scheduling all the religious activities and serving three meals a day. As the ceremonies started on the first day, devotees began to come in from all parts of the state and beyond. There were daily homas, abhishekam and processions. Singing and dancing entertained the devotees.

On the final day, Brahma Kalash Abhishekam was performed on top of Shikharas of all temples, the final one being for the main temple, signifying the end of its consecration. The Maha Kumbhabhishekam at Shirdi Sai Temple was a grand and joyous occasion. The ceremony infused energy in the temple and made many devotees happy to have their beloved mandir back.

For information, visit www.shirdisaiusa.com


5th Annual Multinational Event, Hindu Matrimonial USA, Sept. 29-30 in San Jose, CA

After four successful years in Florida, the fifth annual matrimonial event is set to take place in California for the first time. Hindu, Jain and Sikh singles can participate Sept. 29-30 in San Jose, Calif.

Prospective brides and grooms can forget online matrimonial sites full of promises and fake fronts. Hindu Matrimonial USA (HMUSA) provides a fun-filled weekend of activities and opportunities to find that perfect person, face-to-face! Each year, the feedback has been positive, and participants find it to be a unique experience and look forward to coming back if they are still single.

The idea was conceived by Devyani and Nainan Desai and Malti Pandya back in 2018. Through the support of over 30 volunteers, the group has brought the concept to fruition and is now backed by Mt. Kailash Foundation, a charitable 501(c)3 organization. “In previous events, participants came from Canada, the U.K., and nearly all states of the United States. The right life partner may not be in the neighborhood!” said Nainan Desai.

“The goal is to make finding a life partner more personal than the current online or app-based forums which are repetitive, distant, and often behind a computer screen,” says organizer Malti Pandya. Unlike comparable happenings that have come before it, Hindu Matrimonial is open to all Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs regardless of caste, language or regional background. Single men and women are encouraged to register to meet each other and swipe right in person. The benefits of an event like this are endless but mainly, participants can meet in person and understand their personalities better, says Pandya.

“This allows for a better first impression and true connections. Having been to similar events, I can honestly say that I am more excited for HMUSA because the format is different, rather than the same old speed dating. The organizing team has added a lot of unique and fun ideas, with a more modern mindset, and a proprietary app for the participants,” says Pooja P, a past attendee. The HMUSA app is available to all participants once they arrive in-person and gives prospective couples ample opportunities to continue the conversation.

The two-day program starts Friday evening with a meet & greet, and a full day of activities Saturday ending with a cocktail and dance party. Venue is Napredak Hall, 770 Montague Expressway, San Jose, CA 95131.

Prior online registration is a must, walk-ins are not allowed. Registration is open to take advantage of the early bird discounts as well as earn referral bonuses. For information, call or send SMS to (650) 937-9260, email  HinduMatrimonialUSA.CA@gmail.com, or visit www.HinduMatrimonial.org

$250,000 Gift to Help Establish Endowed Chair for The India Center at UCF

By Charlene Eberly 

A $250,000 gift from Port Orange, residents Ramesh Chopra and Neena Chopra will bring University of Central Florida another step closer to its goal of establishing the Indian Community Endowed Chair for The India Center.
Establishing an endowed chair highlights the importance of studying India at UCF. In Fall 2022, over 3,000 students from 149 countries enrolled at UCF. Students from India represented the second-largest group of international students with 460 individuals enrolled.

The Chopras’ gift will be amplified by a $50,000 match from the university through the UCF Challenge. This strategic initiative provides matching funding from the transformational $40 million gift made in 2021 by philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. With the Chopra family’s gift, donors to date have pledged more than $2.5 million toward the $5 million goal to establish the endowed chair position.
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“It is our hope that our gift will help The India Center create a strong foundation for ongoing research and teaching about India, a diverse and dynamic culture that is both ancient and modern,” says Ramesh Chopra.

Ramesh and Neena Chopra have both practiced medicine in Florida for over 40 years and live in Port Orange. The couple first moved to Florida in 1982 from Minneapolis, Minn. They are active in the Indian American community in Central Florida and helped establish CAPI, a network of Indian American medical professionals who fundraise and pool resources to support health and wellness initiatives, professional growth and leadership development. The couple has a son and daughter, who are both physicians, and four grandchildren.

“We are honored that the Chopra family has chosen to support The India Center at UCF,” says Kerstin Hamann, interim director of The India Center, an associate dean in the College of Sciences and a Pegasus Professor in the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs. “Their gift makes a significant contribution to support the work and enhance the reputation of the center as we strive to become the nation’s preeminent location for the study of contemporary India.”

The mission of The India Center at UCF is to broaden the awareness and understanding of India’s role in the world today. The center is housed in the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs in the College of Sciences. Established in 2012, the center hosts symposia and events of interest to the regional Indian American community and to UCF students and faculty interested in India and its impact in Florida, the nation and beyond. The center has supported the work of UCF scholars and students in India and has received a variety of delegations from India.

The India Center at UCF develops India-U.S. partnerships among universities, companies, governmental, cultural, and other organizations to address issues and opportunities important to both India and the U.S. in areas ranging across technology, politics, security, medicine and more. UCF and The India Center have established partnerships with eight educational institutions in India for student and faculty collaborations and joint graduate degree programs with two colleges in India.

The Carnegie Endowment notes that between 2000 and 2018, the Indian American population grew by 150 percent. In Florida, Orange County is home to the state’s third largest population of immigrants from India behind Hillsborough and Broward counties in 2021, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Story reprinted with permission by UCF


Critical Need for Volunteers in the Tampa Area

Story provided by Guardian a Litem

As caregivers and children prepare for a new academic year with school supply shopping, it can be a happy, hectic time, a sign of normalcy. For foster children, starting a school year, perhaps in a new school or not having adequate school supplies, can be daunting, even traumatic. For a child in foster care, normalcy can look as simple as a new backpack or lunch box; healing can be seen in the positive impact on that child’s self-confidence as they start the school year feeling that they belong. The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office continues to make a meaningful impact this time of year, and the need for volunteers in our area is critical.

By bringing a backpack or school supplies to a child, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office brings normalcy to the back-to-school process for a child whose life has been turned upside down. The office is often the only support and constant in a foster child’s life; the Guardian ad Litem Volunteer brings healing to the child’s self-worth in the school environment.

The Statewide Guardian ad Litem office volunteers show our community’s children that they matter and that we care. Can you help by joining the Statewide Guardian ad Litem office child advocacy team? Although every child appointed to the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is assigned a Guardian ad Litem Attorney and a child welfare professional, not every child has a volunteer on their team. This is where you can help.

National research shows that children with a Guardian ad Litem are more likely to earn better grades, enroll in post-secondary education, and learn better coping skills when aging out of foster care. Students in foster care need our help to have a successful academic school year and move forward confidently.

The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office represents Florida's abused, abandoned and neglected children in court and the community. Through the collaboration of a national best practice multi-disciplinary team that always includes a Guardian ad Litem attorney, a child welfare professional and hopefully a trained volunteer or pro bono attorney from the child’s community if one is available, the team provides legal representation while assisting the child in expressing their needs and wishes. This unique approach allows us to support the whole child, addressing their physical, educational, mental, emotional, social and legal needs. In 2022, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office represented over 36,000 children in Florida.

Learn how to get involved and how you can make a difference in a child’s life at www.guardianadlitem.org or call (813) 272-5110.

KHAASBAAT.COM WEB SITE, EBLASTS, SPONSORSHIP AND MORE!

By NITISH S. RELE and SHEPHALI J. RELE

In this digital age, it bears no repetition that newspapers are a dying breed. A report by Northwestern University reveals that two newspapers are folded every week. As we steadily march toward our 19-year anniversary (printing monthly since August 2004 without skipping an issue), here are some thoughts for our readers.

Since the onset of Covid, Khaas Baat has been available in its entirety in PDF format at khaasbaat.com for everyone, free of charge. If you would like to receive our weekly emails, let us know at editor@khaasbaat.com And if you want home/office delivery, please fill out the subscription form on page two. Despite rising printing and mailing costs, we will continue to publish Khaas Baat. But we will need sponsors and your support moving forward to make that happen. Checks can be addressed to Khaas Baat, 8312 Windsor Bluff Drive, Tampa, FL 33647. Payment can also be made via PayPal to PP ID:nitishrele@gmail.com

As activities are under way, we request community leaders and organizers to email event details to editor@khaasbaat.com by the 20th of the month for the following month’s issue. We always welcome your story ideas and suggestions on how we can best serve our community. Khaas Baat is proud to be the ONE AND ONLY Sunshine State publication to offer comprehensive coverage of news and happenings in your Florida Indian community. Do follow us on twitter @khaasbaat and join us on Facebook.




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