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By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

More than 3,000 people are expected to attend the annual India Fest and Health Fair on Feb. 25 in Gainesville, said Shaheda Qaiyumi, one of the organizers for the India Cultural & Education Center, which is holding the event.

The daylong event to be held at Santa Fe Community College will feature food, music and dances from different parts of India. Several booths offering Indian gold and gemstone jewelry, clothes, arts and crafts, henna, etc. will be set up.

The Health Fair will offer free screening for osteoporosis, blood pressure, asthma, body fat measurement and hand and feet problems. �A complete blood and cholesterol test, which can be quite costly at health centers, will be only $35 at the fair,� said Qaiyumi. A prostate cancer test also will be offered for a discounted fee. People who wish to have blood tests done should not eat or drink for eight hours before testing.

Admission is $2 for adults and children under 5 years of age are free.

The India Fest will be held from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. and the Health Fair will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Santa Fe Community College Gymnasium (Building V) is at 3000 N.W. 83rd St. in Gainesville.

For more information, call Shaheda Qaiyumi at (352) 378-7112, Uma Sethuram at (352) 271-4214 or Naina Patel at (352) 384-1594 or click on

Story provided by 1008 Wells Foundation

Do you know a local woman doing global things? A regular woman making a difference in her own unique way? The 1008 Wells Foundation is honoring a dynamic Central Florida woman touching the lives of others on global levels with the Global Women�s Humanitarian Award.

On March 11, the 1008 Wells Foundation celebrates this progressive woman�s achievements at �Passionate Pursuits � A Celebration of International Women�s Day.� Submit a one page or less nomination stating your nominee�s passionate pursuit, her inspiration and how she is transforming the lives of others beyond her own backyard before Feb. 14 to [email protected].

The March 11 event at the Orlando Marriott Downtown will feature speakers, multicultural dance performances, acclaimed artists, sumptuous delicacies and festivities celebrating the accomplishments of women.

The 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. event will feature Indian, Thai and Philippine music. An international dinner buffet, global bazaar and marketplace, artisan gallery and silent auction also will be on the agenda.

The 1008 Wells Foundation raises awareness and funding for freshwater wells in the marginalized and remote regions of India. Addressing the root cause of hunger, poverty and disease caused by the lack of clean drinking water, this non-profit, non-sectarian organization works on global and grassroots levels.

Advanced tickets per person are $35 and $40 at the door. Call 407-460-7276 or write 1008 Wells Foundation, 8297 Champions Gate Blvd, Suite 127, Champions Gate, FL 33896. For more information, visit


The first ever Rath Yatra or Festival of Chariots in Tampa attracted over 2,000 people.
By SHEPHALI J. RELE - [email protected]

More than 2,000 people attended the first ever Rath Yatra or Festival of Chariots on Jan. 8 in Tampa. The daylong festivities began with a 2-mile procession. Several floats preceded the chariot itself. Idols of Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra were the centerpiece of the rath and were pulled through the streets by devotees. Fifty-one women and children dressed in colorful traditional attire led the rath with kalash on their heads. The devotees were chanting and dancing throughout the entire route of the procession.

In India, the holy town of Puri, Orissa, home of the Lord of the Universe, Jagannath, celebrates this festival. The temple of Jagannath, also known as Krishna, in Puri is one of India�s major pilgrimage sites. The Festival of Chariots signifies Lord Jagannath�s journey from the forest into the hearts of people.

ISKCON representative, Stitha Dey Muni said it was the first time a Rath Yatra was taking place in Florida. The chariot used in the parade was built in Chicago in 1974 and ISKON founder, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada had actually ridden on it. This historical chariot has been in Rath Yatras in several cities, including New York, Boston and Washington D.C.

Shyam Mohapatra, chairman of the organizing group, Tampa Bay Rath Yatra Association, was born in Orissa, the place where the Jagannath culture began. He said his birthplace was the main inspiration for organizing the Rath Yatra.

Around the park, several exhibits and vendor booths were set up, including informative exhibits on Bhagavad-Gita, vegetarianism, reincarnation and origins of the universe. A free vegetarian meal was served to all the attendees. In the afternoon, a cultural program was staged by local participants, including bhajans and classical dances.

The event was organized by the Tampa Bay Rath Yatra Association and ISKCON of Alachua and Tampa and supported by the Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay and other local organizations and patrons.

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Rohini Komarla has been featured in the February issue of Seventeen magazine for being a good role model because of school activities, community service and academic success. Story, page 4.
By NITISH S. RELE [email protected]

Rohini Komarla deserves a pat on the back. Make that two. No, wait a minute. Make that 17. That�s the Tampa teen�s age as well as the name of the magazine, which in its February issue (available on newsstands now) featured the youth as a winner in its All Stars contest. The award is given to 20 girls who are between 13- and 17-year-old for being good role models because of school activities, community service and academic success. �

This senior in King High School�s International Baccalaureate program has been volunteering at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa for four years now. She has more than 1,000 hours of volunteer service to her credit. �

�I have become acquainted with a lot of patients during this period,� she told Khaas Baat. �I noticed that in the hospital waiting areas, there were magazines, newspapers and television but no proper entertainment. I myself love movies and so I decided to raise money ($4,000 and still counting) to serve the entertainment needs of the patients.� �

After speaking with a volunteer coordinator and technical folks at Moffitt, Rohini bought portable DVD players, magazines, movies and games to be placed on wooden entertainment cards for patients to borrow. �

She was nominated for the Seventeen role model pick by her elder sister, Ashwini, 21. The trip to New York City to do a photo shoot for the magazine �was fun,� she said. �It was a shock at first but the employees at Seventeen made us feel great.� �

Future plans? �I would like to become a doctor, specializing in oncology or sports medicine,� she replied. In the meantime, her hobbies include Indian classical dancing, American dance and journalism. She is editor of her school�s newspaper, Specter. �

And yes, her Moffitt entertainment cart volunteer project is ongoing. She is accepting donations payable to Moffitt Cancer Center � Entertainment Project, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612-9416. �

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Henry Daniell
Story provided by University of Central Florida

Enough anthrax vaccine to inoculate everyone in the United States could be grown inexpensively and safely with only one acre of tobacco plants, a University of Central Florida molecular biologist -- an Indian American -- has found.

Mice immunized with a vaccine produced in UCF professor Henry Daniell�s laboratory through the genetic engineering of tobacco plants survived lethal doses of anthrax administered later by National Institutes of Health researchers. The results of the NIH-funded study were featured in the December issue of the Infection & Immunity journal.

Daniell�s research is a breakthrough in efforts to find a safe and effective method of producing large quantities of vaccine for anthrax, one of the top bioterrorism threats facing the United States. The new production method also could help the government and health care providers avoid supply shortages, as one acre of plants can produce 360 million doses in a year.

�Anthrax vaccine is very much in need, primarily because of bioterrorism concerns,� said Daniell, a native of Tamil Nadu. �But in the United States, only one company has the capacity to produce the vaccine, and it is made in very small quantities by fermentation. We can provide enough doses of a safe and effective vaccine for all Americans from just one acre of tobacco plants.�

The next step for the anthrax vaccine would involve a company working with NIH to conduct clinical trials. Human subjects would be injected only with the vaccine and not with anthrax itself, and scientists would then check the subjects� immunity levels. The vaccine later could be mass-produced and stockpiled for emergencies.

Born and educated in Tamil Nadu, Daniell moved to the United States as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1980. He has served on the faculty of Washington State University, Auburn University and the University of Central Florida (as Pegasus Professor and Trustee Chair).

Daniell, who is the first UCF Trustee Chair in Life Sciences, began teaching at UCF in 1998. In 2004, he won UCF�s Pegasus Professor Award, the top honor given to a faculty member who excels in teaching, research and service.

In 2004, he also became only the 14th American in the last 222 years to be elected to the Italian National Academy of Sciences. Past members from the U.S. include Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.

By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

Goa is one of the top up and coming destinations for 2006, according to the latest edition of Frommer�s. The travel guide, published worldwide and regarded as the traveler�s Bible, describes this once-hippie Mecca as "now opening to mainstream tourism."

Frommer�s writes that Goa�s beaches, coconut trees and sea views are just the tip of its beauty. �Walking down the street, you will hear Portuguese as well as Indian dialects, see Hindu shrines atop holy crosses, gigantic mansions and farmers plowing their rice fields amidst water buffalo. Due to its bargain prices, Europeans love to enjoy paradise for a cheaper price. The nightlife is characterized by reckless abandonment and the five-star resorts will take care of your every beck and call.�

A must-see attraction during a visit to this state located on the west coast of India is Anjuna�s Wednesday Market, according to the travel guide. �Thousands of stalls sell everything from futuristic rave gear to hammocks perfect for the beach. The people are about as varied at the merchandise: Rajasthanis, Gujaratis, Tibetans as well as Karnataka farmers with �fortune-telling� cows are no stranger to this market!�

The other top nine interesting affordable destinations for 2006 on Frommer�s list were Amador County, U.S.; Belem, Brazil; Charleston, U.S.; Glasgow, Scotland; Kenya game parks; Margarita, Venezuela; Molokai, Hawaii; Ramah, New Mexico; and Tasmania, Australia.

Arun C. Gulani

Arun C. Gulani, founding director of the Gulani Vision Institute in Gainesville, recently received the Super Physician finalist award from the Jacksonville Business Journal. He was picked as one of the Health Care Heroes 2005, an award given for excellence in medical care, as well as extraordinary leadership and innovation.

The 36-year-old is a pioneer in the field of ophthalmology and LASIK eye surgery. In fact, he has invented LASIK instrument techniques, classification systems and treatment protocols. He teaches his new concept in laser vision surgery � corneoplastique � to LASIK surgeons so they can further improve their outcomes as he prepared for SuperVision to be the final goal of eye surgeries.

Gulani was the first in Florida and among the first in the world to perform artificial corneal transplants (made in Australia) to give hope for blindness by replacing damaged corneas of patients.

Before starting his own vision institute a year ago, Gulani served as director of Cornea and Laser Refractive Surgery at the University of Florida Department of Ophthalmology in Jacksonville.

A native of Bombay, Gulani received his resident training at KEM Hospital. He was given the Becton-Dickinson Career Achievement Award in Philadelphia at the age of 26. He is the president of the Indo American Medical forum of North East Florida, honorary board of director for the American Cancer Institute and medical adviser to the Florida Times-Union daily newspaper.

He lives in Jacksonville with his wife, Supriya, and two children, Aaishwarya and Yash.
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Muharram is a month of mourning for the lovers and followers of "Aali Muhammad." In this month, on the 10th day In 61 Hijra, Imam Hussain bin Ali (A.S.), the grandson of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and the younger son of Ali and Fatima (S.A.), together with his family and friends � in all 72 men � were slain on the sands of the desert of Naynawah, Karbala. Since then, each year, the true followers of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), through grief, sorrow and tears, keep alive the message, cause and purpose of the greatest martyrdom in human history.

No doubt it is a holy and sacred month:

The believing men and women, in this month, suspend application of good effects of days and dates and avoid rejoicing even if happy events come in their stride.

The friends and followers of "Aali Muhammad" hold meetings (Majlis), they had been doing so, for last 1,400 years, in the name of Imam Hussain (A.S.), during the months of Muharram (and Safar), particularly in the first 10 days of Muharram, to give new life to the Divine Message of "Laa Ilaaha Illallah" as the beloved saint-poet of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti (of Ajmir) had said: "Indeed, Hussain (A.S.) is the architect of 'Laa Ilaaha Illallah�; both are reciprocally related to each other."

And the philosopher-poet of Pakistan, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, had said: "Ismaeel was the beginning (first step), Hussain was the ultimate."

Each year (at the advent of Muharram), Islam turns over a new leaf.

In fact it is on account of Imam Hussain's remembrance, every year we know who the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), Ali Ibne Abi Talib (A.S.), Bibi Fatima (S.A.) are, and what were their true substance, style and wisdom.

Story provided by ICC Senior Day Organizers

More than 150 people attended the first India Cultural Center (ICC) Senior Day on Jan. 18 at Lotus Hall. �We were expecting about 50 people,� said John Adhia, one of the organizers of this Tampa Bay area event. �But the attendance was beyond everyone�s expectations.� Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, South Indians, Punjabis, Marwaris, Sindhis and many more diverse representatives made this a true ICC event.�

The day began with breakfast consisting of tea and fafdi. Games such as bridge, rummy and carom board were played. Volunteers cooked lunch � kichdi, saak, chaas and bhakhris � on-site. Thereafter, Pandit Ramesh Mehta and his musical team sang various bhajans. The program ended with the showing of a new film, �Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara.�

The next ICC Senior Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 15. �This is a free event and we want everyone to attend,� said Adhia. �Also, we are looking for volunteers to provide rides.�

For more details, call any one of the following volunteers: Dr. Sindhu Kotwani at (813) 866-8522; Anil Amlani at (813) 969-0274; Ram Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172; Himatlal Parekh at (813) 969-1661; Ravi and Nagjibhai Patel at (727) 578-2262; Gautam Thakkar (813) 949-8244 or John Adhia at (813) 784 1132.

Maha Kalasa Sthapana
Story provided by Uma Eyyunni

January 15 will be etched in the history of Indian community as auspicious. It was on this day that the Maha Kalasa Sthapana, a vital ritual in the construction of a new Hindu temple on Greenland Road, Jacksonville, took place. The event started with the placement of Kalasas -- sanctified vessels -- in an already sanctified ground by priest Pandit Srinathji.

About 400 devotees witnessed the ceremony, and made a mark in their personal lives by donating a brick, participating in the havan and contributing in cash, kind and devotion. Several of the board members and executive members helped make the function a grand success, concluding with a prasad sponsored by Balbir Singh.

The phase one of the temple should be completed by the end of the year. The community is looking forward to India Festival on April 29 as a major fundraiser for the temple. The highlight of the festival is a raffle for a BMW, with the tickets of $1,000 suggested donation and a chance of 1 in 200.

For further details, visit the temple Web site at

By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

Best reason to eat your okra and cauliflower? Laziz restaurant in Clearwater! That�s according to Chris Sherman, food critic for The St. Petersburg Times. Recently, Florida�s largest circulated daily newspaper, mentioned some of the restaurants that continue to boost the food fortunes in the Tampa Bay area.

Here�s what Sherman had to say in the Jan. 12 issue of The Times: �This crossroads of suburban retail now includes one of the posher settings for Indian cuisines, too long underrepresented here. Laziz fills a small, handsome restaurant with carefully roasted and blended spices. The spectrum runs from tart, vinegary vindaloo to the rich, sweet, creamy kormas. But the best meal may be whole baked eggplant ��

Laziz is at 2475 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater or call (727) 797-7541.


In today�s society, we tend to place a priority on being attractive and beauty, and associate beauty with being thin. Overweight children are at a big disadvantage and susceptible to difficult self-esteem issues and peer pressure. Research has shown that 1 in 4 children are either overweight or obese. The emotional and social challenges for overweight children are enormous. After detail research and interviews of overweight middle children, data show how terrible overweight children feel about themselves and that is compounded by the ridicule and abuse they also get from their peers.

The seriousness of the problem for overweight children may be invisible to adults and children who are not obese, but it can be overwhelming to overweight children and their parents who care for that child.

When it comes to social emotional variable related to children�s worries and confidence, overweight children fared worse than those of average weight children.

Pay close attention to the reality of what overweight children feel. If your child is struggling with their weight, it is important that you become aware of these emotional issues and address them before it gets out of hand.

Overweight kids are much less likely to describe themselves as happy, cool, funny or confident vs. the average weight child.

Overweight kids are much more likely to describe themselves as lonely, sad or fearful or different than others.

Overweight kids are five times more likely than average kids to describe themselves as not confident.

Overweight girl children usually describe themselves as less beautiful than average girl children.

Overweight boy children are 50 percent less likely to describe themselves as athletic.

This is a serious problem with our young people today. You see, overweight children usually lead to overweight adults. Be aware of what is happening to your child should they have weight issues. If you need information on dealing with children obesity, visit � they will help you get educated.

Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran can be reached at [email protected]
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By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

Taj Hotels, Resorts & Places, and the Himalayan Homestays in India were two of the seven projects and organizations to win Travel+Leisure magazine�s Global Vision Awards.

While presenting the Corporate Initiative award to Taj, the magazine noted: �With 56 properties in 39 locations in India, Taj's philanthropy has aided hunger-relief efforts, education, health crisis, fund-raising, earthquake relief, and income generation for underprivileged women and other social development and environmental issues facing communities throughout India.�

As for the Community Outreach award for the Himalayan Homestays in Ladakh, Travel+Leisure wrote: �Created to support the customs and traditions of communities in the higher Himalayas, this conservation program has single-handedly transformed the perception of the snow leopard from a dangerous predator to an animal whose presence draws travelers and provides economic opportunities to villagers throughout this region.�

For more information, click on

University of Central Florida students learn yoga during the first ever graduate course in Indian culture. Teaching the course on Yoga is Professor Hasmukh Taylor.
Story provided by Burnett Honors College, UCF

Thanks go to the Burnett Honors College at the University of Central Florida in Orlando for introducing the first ever graduate course in Indian culture last summer. The idea was initiated by Professor Jagdish Chavda. Teaching the course on Yoga is Professor Hasmukh Taylor (graduate from Imperial College, University of London). The Music and Dance course is being taught by Professor Nandkishor Muley. Dr. Alvin Wang, dean of The Burnett Honors College at UCF, is the person who brought this all to fruition.

The course integrates Music, Dance and Yoga based on Indian philosophy with theory and practical exams. �It was a great success and it has been again scheduled for fall 2006,� said Taylor. �The Yoga Course is quite unique in its approach. It draws views and philosophy from great feature movies such as �The Matrix,� �Star Wars,� �The Legend of Bagger Vance,� �The Bullet Proof Monk,� �Bruce Almighty,� to name but a few.�

The course on Music and Dance looks at the two as ways not just to celebrate but also offerings of worship and thanksgiving to a deity. �It explains how raga is music, tala as rhythm, while natyam stands for nritya or dance,� said Taylor. �All dance forms were structured around the nine �rasa� or emotions. The course also introduces some of the instruments of Hindustani music such as santoor, tambura, tables, etc.�

�The Honors College is so pleased that we are able to offer the Honors seminar "Indian Culture: Music, Dance, and Yoga" to our students,� said Dean Wang. �As our mission statement indicates, we believe it is our responsibility to expand the horizons of our students. We do this by exposing our students to different forms of knowing that derive from diverse academic disciplines as well as a wide selection of courses that explore multiculturalism in all of its guises.�

For more information, click on

Mental Health Column

It is time for the Tampa Bay community to have a forum where voices can be expressed, respected and heard. This column will provide just such a corner. In time, I hope there will be enough interest generated when you, the reader, will begin to request certain topics of discussion.
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Send your questions and concerns

Check out the new recipes submitted by Khaasbaat readers from all over Tampa Bay. Also read features on new food businesses and books. Read Story

Youth Highlights And Column
How many of us have heard our child say, �I can�t do it.� Or, �It�s too hard� when faced with a new task? Parents often chalk these phrases up to a child�s being lazy, or a disinterest in the job at hand. This may be the case, but parents need to be careful to watch out that their child is not suffering from a decreased confidence or lowered self-esteem.
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