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PALM BEACH: The annual IndiaFest, put together by Palm Beach India Association, will be on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Meyer Amphitheater in downtown West Palm Beach. Admission is free. According to organizers, IndiaFest is a way to celebrate the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of India with the South Florida community. Over the past decade, IndiaFest has become one of the premier events in South Florida, with more than 10,000 people in attendance. The daylong outdoor event, which begins at 10 a.m., is free and open to the public. It will feature cultural performances, food, clothing, jewelry, henna and craft vendors, and art exhibits. X-Factor fame Kalpesh Kharwa will perform. Meyer Amphitheater is at 104 Datura St., West Palm Beach. For details, visit www.gopbia.org or email [email protected]

NAPLES/BONITA SPRINGS: Organized by India Association of Naples, the annual India Fest will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples. About 6,000 people are expected to attend. Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann will be the chief guest. Apart from cultural performances on stage, there will be more than 20 booths selling Indian food, clothing, accessories, henna tattoos, etc. For information, email [email protected]

MELBOURNE: Manav Mandir will present its 27th annual Indiafest on Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10, at Wickham Park, 2500 Parkway Drive, Melbourne. The fun family event brings Indian culture to the Space Coast with cultural and fashion shows, henna, arts and crafts, Indian cooking demo, food, raffle drawings, etc. This year’s theme is “Zero to Infinity,” showcasing India’s contribution of Math/Science/Technology to the world, from zero to the decimal system and the recent South Pole landing on the Moon. Timings are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for children 12 and under; kids younger than 5 years are free.

This festival is unique in its commitment to giving back to the community. Indiafest is a non-profit, cultural organization known for its charitable efforts to local charities, including the parent organization, Manav Mandir. With community support, the organization has raised and donated over $1.4 million to date. This year, two organizations have been selected – Aging Matters of Brevard – which serves meals to the senior population and – Children Hunger Project – which provide food to elementary school kids for the weekend who would otherwise go hungry. For information, call Nina Gadodia at (321) 779-0110, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.indiafestbrevard.org

GAINESVILLE/ALACHUA: Presented by the India Cultural & Education Center, India Fest (Traditions of India) will be held on Saturday, March 23. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Legacy Park Multipurpose Center, 15400 Peggy Road, Alachua. A health fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There also will be Indian food, music/dance, fashion, jewelry, etc. For information, email [email protected] or visit www.icec-florida.org

ORLANDO/CASSELBERRY: The Hindu Society of Central Florida will hold its annual Indiafest on Saturday, March 30, on the temple grounds, and the cultural program in the air-conditioned community hall. Admission is free with a $5 parking fee. The event will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at HSCF, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry. Visit www.orlandohindutemple.org

FORT MYERS: The India Association of Fort Myers (IAFM) will hold its annual India Fest on Saturday, April 6, at Caloosa Sound Amphitheatre, 2101 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers. The 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. event will feature Indian food, dance, henna, music, handicrafts and clothing. More specifically, there will be live entertainment on the outdoor stage throughout the day, including modern and classical dances, and fashion shows. Holi grand finale traditional color play ceremony.  Tickets are $10 per person. For information, call (239) 530-8085, mail email [email protected] or visit https://www.iaftmyers.org/india-fest


“Every child that enters through the doors of Abhyasa is no less than my own.” It is no surprise that the vision, intense dedication and hard work of teacher-founder Jyothi Venkatachalam deservedly completed 30 years of the Tampa Abhyasa School of Dance while “enchanted by dance and building beautiful everlasting memories.”
To celebrate the momentous accomplishment, Venkatachalam organized a 30-year celebration “Glories of Devi” showcasing performances of 35 Abhyasa students Jan. 14 at the New Tampa Performing Arts Center. More than 400 people packed the fairly-new arts center in New Tampa. Among the pieces were “Baje Mridang,” invocation to Lord Ganesha; “Ganapathy Stuti,” traditional classical song dedicated to the elephant God; “Nava Durga Stotram,” set to the hymn praising the nine forms of Durga; “Ambe Ambika,” melody from Vande Guru Parampara, invoking goddess Parvati; “Bhavyada Lakshmi,” Sri Purandara Dasa Kriti seeking goddess Lakshmi’s blessings; and “Varnam,” the centerpiece dance that describes goddess Durga ride the lion, thereafter, to kill the demon Mahishasura.

In her remarks, Venkatachalam thanked her parents, gurus and God, the unwavering, tireless and positive support of her husband Ramesh, and children Rohit and Samvit who have given “me lots of opportunities to tell of how proud I am of them.” She was grateful to all past and present students, and their parents for the opportunity to be an important part of their artistic growth.

She recognized her mentors in India, Sarmishta Sarkar, Anusha Natarajan and Lakshmipathy Balaji who have guided and supported her tremendously through all these years. Also, she expressed appreciation to all her musicians who travel from India for all arangetrams and have been an essential part of this journey, during which time she has presented 43 arangetrams. Venkatachalam also contributed a column on Bharat Natyam for several years in Khaas Baat.

“It is believed art is what brings a community together,” she said on a parting note. “I am truly privileged and blessed to be associated with the wonderful Tampa Bay community.”

Venkatachalam can be reached at [email protected]




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 20-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 [email protected] 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:[email protected]

As activities are under way, we request community leaders and organizers to email event details to [email protected] 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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