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SOUTH FLORIDA: The Indian Regional and Cultural Center (IRCC) will hold Anand Bazaar – Lohri/Republic Day/Kite Flying all rolled into one – from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28. Venue is yet to be determined. Kites and food will be available for sale. Youth club elections will also be held. For information on the event, e-mail [email protected] or visit https://irccflorida.org/

TAMPA BAY AREA: The Federation of India Associations (FIA) of Tampa Bay will hold India’s 75th Republic Day celebration on Sunday, Jan. 28, at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. The lively and free event attracting all age groups from the greater Tampa Bay region includes cultural programs, competitions in art, essay writing, patriotic dress, music, rangoli and cooking; blood drive; food booths, clothing and jewelry stalls; India and U.S. flag hoisting; high school scholarships presentation; panel to provide college major advice by students and admissions counselors; member organizations, including regional language exhibits. For details to register and participate, visit http://www.fiatampabay.org/ 
For details, contact FIA at  [email protected]

ORLANDO: Indian American Business Association and Chamber will hold India Fair to celebrate Republic Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 27 at Children’s Safety Village, 910 Fairvilla Road, Orlando. During the free and family-friendly event, there will be a display of culture and heritage, flag hoisting, music and dance. For information, call Yogesh at (321) 271-1217 or visit www.iabausa.com

Indian Cultural Society of Jacksonville will celebrate India Day from 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at Landmark Middle School, 101 Kernan Blvd N., Jacksonville. Children can showcase a kit, dance or group song. There also will be poster, rangoli and fancy-dress competitions. For information, email [email protected] or visit www.jaxics.org


JAN. 14: UTTARAYAN; organized by Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay; venue to be determined; for information, call GSTB President Mahesh Moda at (813) 476-1540.

JAN. 14: LOHRI/MAKAR SANKRANT; Sanatan Mandir, 311 E. Palm Ave., Tampa; 6 to 7 p.m.; for information, call (813) 221-4482 or visit www.sanatanmandirtampa.org


JAN. 13-14: Lohri bonfire and Sankranti celebration at 5 p.m. on Jan. 13; next day, Makar Sankranti; Hindu Society of Central Florida, 1994 Lake Drive, Casselberry; 7 p.m.; for information, visit www.myhscf.org

JAN. 14: organized by Gujarati Society of Central Florida; Pine Lake Retreat, 21725 County Road 33, Groveland; 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; children’s activities/playground; food available; free for members, $25 non-members; for information, call (352) 223-4750.

JAN. 21: INDIAN KITE FESTIVAL; organized by Indian Association of Space Coast along with City of Palm Beach; Fred Poppe Regional Park, 1951 Malabar Road, Palm Bay; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; for questions, email [email protected]

JAN. 14: UTTARAYAN; planned by Gujarati Samaj of North East Florida; 10 a.m.; St. Johns County Equestrian Center, 8200 Smith Road, Hastings; free for members, $20 for non-members; RSVP required; kites/thread and food will be available for purchase; for information, call (224) 622-0655 or visit www.gsnef.org/events.aspx



Tampa Bay community leader and education proponent Dr. Madhavi Sekharam, age 68, passed away on Dec. 24 after a 2½-year battle against colon cancer.

Throughout her life, Madhavi showed staunch commitment to education, steadfast community values and service, which can be attributed to an upbringing within a family deeply rooted in progressiveness and strong principles. Born in Punadipadu in Andhra Pradesh, it was Chennai where she spent the majority of her youth as her father pursued a career in the movie industry. Education remained a cornerstone in her family, prioritized above all else. She completed her undergraduate studies in Chennai, Master’s in Chemistry at Kanpur, and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) Mysore. It was also in Mysore that she met her future husband Dr. Kotha Sekharam, got married, and had daughter Anupama.

After securing a post-doctoral research opportunity in Knoxville, Tenn. (University of Tennessee), Madhavi was soon accompanied by Dr. Kotha. Their journey then led them to Gainesville, where she furthered her post-doctoral research at UF and had son Vikas.

In 1993, the family settled in Tampa where Madhavi would dedicate years to scientific research at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer & Research Institute. Eventually, accompanied by her husband Dr. Kotha, Madhavi ventured into entrepreneurship and founded esteemed pet health manufacturing enterprise Florida Research Group LLC. The company supplies top-tier global pet health brands. Madhavi meticulously oversaw the business operations, ensuring an unwavering commitment to product quality.

While working full-time, she and husband Dr. Kotha managed the volunteer Sunday Gurukulam School at the USF campus for almost three decades while raising two children. She served as a leader, organizer, scheduler, counselor and motivator. The school not only provided education for hundreds of students every Sunday but also fostered a sense of community and cultural integration for Indian families.

Madhavi's enduring commitment was evident through her unwavering support and continuous stewardship in key roles within several community organizations.

She cofounded Telugu Association of Florida (TAF), which started in 1998 with a handfulof people and subsequently has grown into a prominent Telugu community group. For the North American Telugu Society, Madhavi was among the core five-member organizers to celebrate the first NATS conference in Orlando. She served as past chairwoman of Federation of Indian Association of Tampa Bay (FIA) and afterward continued to provide guidance and support. She co-founded the Tampa Bay chapter of Akshaya Patra. She was the largest supporter of the Tampa chapter of North-South Foundation and played a key role in organizing the 2016 National Finals. She also was founding member of Gurukulam of Tampa Bay Toastmasters, as well as organized weekly coaching for the national GEOBEE that resulted in several national champions. She was an executive member and Angel donor of the charitable organization Awareness USA (www.awarenessusa.org).

Demonstrating the essence of a remarkable individual, she was a devoted wife and mother and dedicated herself to family and community. Her tireless efforts to humanity and unwavering commitment to community service set a standard and continue to inspire the community. While speaking at her son’s wedding recently, she mentioned that it takes a village to raise a family as an immigrant working in a new land. But it bears pointing out that she herself provided that support and guidance for countless individuals in the community. 

She is survived by husband Dr. Kotha Sekharam, daughter Dr. Anu Kotha, son-in-law Dr. Arun Iyer and grandchildren Sumana and Teja, son Dr. Vikas Kotha and daughter-in-law Josephine, mother Girija Devi and sister Madhuri




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 [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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