AUGUST 2023
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Florida communities celebrating:

TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/CLEARWATER
FIA of Tampa Bay will celebrate India Independence Day from 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. Overseeing the festivities are FIA President Kamakshi Shete and Event Chair Dr. Anu Kotha. See ad on page XX for detailed information about the daylong activities.

SOUTH FLORIDA (FORT LAUDERDALE)
The Association of Indians in America (AIA) South Florida chapter will hold India Independence Day celebrations from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Admission is free. On the agenda is cultural entertainment of music and dance, Indian food and fashion. For details, email aia.sflorida@gmail.com

ORLANDO/CASSELBERRY/ALTAMONTE SPRINGS
Hindu Society of Central Florida and New Age Group will celebrate India’s Independence Day in advance on Aug. 13, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the community hall at 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. Admission is free. Cultural groups and individuals are urged to participate in entertainment programs. For information, call (407) 782-3007 or email hscfcommittee2019@gmail.com

Central Florida Indian Cultural Association will celebrate Independence Day from 2 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, at Cranes Roost Park, Altamonte Springs. Programs include a parade, cultural dance and kids fancy dress. Entry is free. For information, call Prashant Saoji at (321) 460-0800.

Also, University of Central Florida will hold Independence Day celebration at 4 p.m. Aug. 27 at Live Oak Event Center, 4115 Pyxis Lane, Orlando. There will be a keynote address by a representative from the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., remarks from Provost Michael D. Johnson and a classical Indian music performance. For information, email Leila.Chacko@ucf.edu

BARTOW/PLANT CITY/LAKELAND
The Bhartiya Samaj of Central Florida will celebrate Independence Day Aug. 13 with a flag ceremony/picnic from 11 a.m. at Mary Holland Park, 2015 Shumate Drive, Bartow. For tickets and more information, call Subhash Patel at (863) 838-0969 or visit www.bscfl.com

GAINESVILLE
India Cultural and Education Center (ICEC) Youth Group will celebrate India's Independence Day on Aug. 19 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Little Wood Elementary School, 812 N.W. 34th St. For details, call (352) 379-2911 or visit www.icec-florida.org

NAPLES
India Association of Naples will hold Independence Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 2 at a yet-to-be-determined multipurpose room in a middle school. For details, visit www.ianaples.com/

MELBOURNE/COCOA (SPACE COAST)
India Association of the Space Coast will hold India Day on Aug. 19. For more information, email  iascbrevard@gmail.com or visit https://myiasc.com/

TALLAHASSEE
India Association of Tallahassee (IATLH) will hold its annual Utsav/India Day this year. But at press time, details were not available. For updates, visit www.iatlh.org


KHAAS BAAT COMPLETES 19 YEARS

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER

By NITISH S. RELE and SHEPHALI J. RELE

Khaas Baat celebrates another milestone this August. Nineteen years of continuous print monthly since the inaugural issue in August 2004. And toward that, all thanks go to dedicated volunteer columnists for their valuable contributions, our steadfast advertisers and well-wishers.

Over a third of newspapers in the United States have shut down in the last 15 years or so. Paper shortages and supply issues have hit community newspapers such as Khaas Baat the hardest but, despite all odds, we have continued to print on a monthly basis. Things became more challenging during the pandemic, and now we face rising inflation and mailing costs. We need your help to sustain, especially from advertisers.

Since early 2020, Khaas Baat has been available free in its entirety online at www.khaasbaat.com for the convenience of our readers. However, if you prefer a hard copy of the newspaper, consider subscribing for home delivery. And to advertisers who are looking to open new businesses, we request promoting your venture to the community through our newspaper instead of just social media.
 
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. Planning an event? Consider placing an ad to promote it. Feel strongly about an issue? Send us a letter to the editor. We always welcome your story ideas and suggestions on how we can best serve our community. On that note, there is a grave need for volunteers in the Tampa area. Please read story on Guardian ad Litem on page 22.

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.

HONORING THE LATE PANDIT VISHNU SHARMA

Pandit Vishnu Sharma, a past contributor for Khaas Baat and a personal friend of ours, died June 16 in Tampa. He imparted a vast knowledge and understanding of Hinduism through sermons on Sanskrit scriptures and Bhagavat Gita. In his memory and as a tribute to a spiritual leader and adviser to the community-at-large, we reproduce a column he wrote for Khaas Baat on Raksha Bandhan, which will be celebrated on Aug. 30.

SHRAVANI UPAAKARM - RAKSHA BANDHAN

By PANDIT VISHNU SHARMA

There is a synonymous relationship between the celebrations of Shravani Upaakarm and Raksha Bandhan. This article is meant to define, distinguish and add clarity between these two occasions. Among the many mythological legends of Hinduism, we learned from Nirnai-Sindhu of one such occasion where the control of the heavenly regions was won by the Asuras from the Devatas.

As the lord of the heavens, Lord Indra requested advice and counsel from his preceptor, Brihaspati. When Brihaspati arrived, Indra was not home. Brihaspati then give Indra's wife (Indrani) a Rakhee (a protective amulet) with instructions to tie it on Indra's right wrist or drape it across his shoulders. This was done upon Indra's return and we learned that he was subsequently successful in his battle to regain control of the heavenly regions.

In time, this day has been identified as Shravani (August) Upaa (near) Karm (an action), meaning that the Guru will visit the student and invest upon him/her, this protective amulet, which was meant for their protection in facing their challenges of life. Since it was not practical for the Guru to visit everyone, the wives were charged with the responsibility to put this amulet on their husbands before they went into battle.

By this act, the wife was asking for victory, success and the safe return of her husband from whom she is dependent for all her protection. For those men who did not return from battle, their wives would engage in the act of Sutie (voluntary euthanasia), which was considered to be the highest form of sacrifice in the face of any potential defamation of their character as a widow. As more men were not returning safely from battle, their wives were losing the desire to live out their lives. As this sentiment drew stronger, the importance of survival was shifted to the unmarried sisters of the men, as the sisters were considered to be the progenitors for the continuation of the society and culture.

So, the sisters were vested with the responsibility to install the amulet of protection on their brothers, as they leave for war. It was felt that they would perform this act with the same love as the wives, as they were known as Dayaya Bhagni Murti, meaning that the sisters were the "embodiment of mercy". This was a prevalent and common act during the time of the Rajput dynasty of India. It also was felt that if the Moguls ultimately captured the sisters, they, as mothers could still influence the children's development toward the Rajput culture, though they would be fathered by Mogul blood.

Because the sisters began to perform this act, this occasion was improperly identified as Raksha Bandhan as it was somewhat synonymous with the exchange of brotherly/sisterly love between Yam and Yami on the occasion of Yam-Dvitiya, which is celebrated later in the year in conjunction with Deep-Avali. We learned in Bhagvat Puran, that Yam and Yami became separated for a long time.  Upon Yam's return, his sister Yami was overjoyed to see him. She immediately served him with food and tied a Rakhee on his right wrist with the mutual promise that they would never be separated again.

This act between Yam and Yami is the correct and appropriate interpretation of the term Raksha Bandhan, meaning that for our mutual protection (raksha), we are now bonded (bandhan) together. Even though the tying of the amulet were vested with the sisters, we must remember that the original symbol of Shravani Upaakarm represents the Guru's benediction to the student, who is about to embark upon a major undertaking. That's why this day is regarded as the best day in the whole year to invest the children with the sacred thread as part of the Upanayan Sanskaar. In contrast, Raksha Bandhan is a profound act of love from a sister to a brother and a simultaneous request for harmony and understanding between them.

The reciprocal exchange of emotions between the brother (Yam) and sister (Yami) is captured in her tying the Saubhagya Sutra on his hand. We differentiate between the two occasions by understanding that in Yam-Dvitiya (Raksha Bandhan), the reason is an exclusive expression of a sister's love for her brother because of a reunion after a long absence. In Shravani Upaakarm, the reason is a sincere and profound wish for the anticipatory protection of the brother who is going on an uncertain journey, for his safe return and protection of his sister. In Yam-Dvitiya, it is a case of singular dependence whereas in Shravani Upaakarm, it is a case of mutual dependence.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

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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