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Dr. Rao MusunuruDr. Rao Musunuru, a nationally recognized practicing cardiologist, was honored as the “2012 Philanthropist of the Year” on Nov. 13, by the Nature Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

In appreciation of his exemplary educational contributions to the medical community as well as the public at local, state and national levels for 30 years, as of Dec. 5, the Regional conference center in Hudson has been named as “Rao Musunuru, M.D. Conference Center.”

He is the recipient of the “National Physician of the Year” award from the American Heart Association in 2005. He also served as a member of the advisory council for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at N.I.H. He serves on the national leadership committee of the clinical cardiology council of the American Heart Association, along with his son, Kiran Musunuru, an internationally recognized cardiologist, based at Harvard.

Also, on Dec. 12, the art gallery at Pasco-Hernando Community College was dedicated as “Rao Musunuru, M.D. Art Gallery” for his committed support of public college education, having served on the board of trustees since 1999; three times as its chairman.

Also, in 2012, he was recognized by the education commissioner of Florida for his volunteer work to support the school system, especially the homeless students.

In 2011, in recognition of his extraordinary humanitarian efforts, the West Pasco Historical Society named its museum “Rao Musunuru, M.D. Museum and Library.”

Several years ago, in recognition of his extensive community service, ‘CARES’ honored him by naming their activity center “Rao Musunuru, M.D. Enrichment Center.”

Also, he volunteers for Lighthouse for the Blind and Good Samaritan free health clinic serving the indigent.

Dr. Musunuru is a regular guest columnist for the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune.


Jan. 12, 2013 marks 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda. Since his famous address in Chicago Parliament of Religions on Sept. 11, 1893, Swamiji has become a beacon of Hindu dharma and philosophy. His advancement of Dharma in the modern era uniquely resonates with Hindu-Americans. The ideas introduced by him, such as Yoga, Karma, and the spiritual oneness of humanity, have a growing appeal in America. The concept of the plurality of spiritual paths originally stated in the ?ig Veda and invoked by Swamiji in his Chicago Address, finds relevance even today.

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA, (HSS) is commemorating Swamiji and his vision of “Universal Peace Through Dharma and Yoga,” by organizing several community events throughout 2013. Various commemorative events in 2013 include a nationwide “Yoga Day” coinciding with Swamiji’s birthday on Jan. 12; a nationwide quiz contest for children; programs for high school and college students, such as a traveling exhibit on Swamiji’s life visiting major university campuses and “Vacation with Vivekananda” excursions to locations where Swamiji visited during his travels in the United States; and a culminating “Dharma and Yoga Fest,” scheduled simultaneously on a regional basis to commemorate Swamiji’s Chicago Address on Sept. 11, 1893.

“Dharma Bee” challenge is a part of this celebration where children from kindergarten through eighth grade are encouraged to participate and win prizes, totaling up to $50,000. This competition will be held from February through April in three stages: locally, regionally and finally nationally in the United States. There will be 200 test centers across the country and an estimated 10,000 participants. The focus is on stories of Swami Vivekananda and Shri Krishna. The inspirational stories of Swami Vivekananda and the childhood stories of Sri Krishna are a simple yet effective way of keeping children in United States in touch with the Hindu culture and heritage. 

For more information, visit www.hssus.org/sv150 and www.dharmabee.org

Tampa Bay gears up for 4th Annual India International Film Festival FEB. 15-17

India International Film Festival will take place in Tampa from Feb. 15-17. Within just three years of its inception, IIFF of Tampa Bay has attracted filmmakers from around the nation and media coverage across the globe. The three-day festival drew in more than 3,000 people last in 2012. Its goal is to create a forum for local, national and international filmmakers to conceive, share and showcase ideas as related to India. While IIFF pays homage to Bollywood, it focuses on independent films in a wide variety of genres as related to the Indian culture and society.

Legendary actress Deepti Naval, comedian Russel Peters, actors Ajay Naidu and Samrat Chakraborti, directors Sangeeta Datta, etc., are just some of the attendees of the festival. In addition to films in Hindi and English, IIFF features films from different regions of India in various languages such as Bengali, Gujarati, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi and Urdu.

This year’s festival will take place in the historic Ybor City’s Centro Ybor (1600 E. Eighth Ave.,), opening with a red-carpet reception on Friday, Feb. 15, followed by the opening night feature and after party. The second and third day will feature various film screenings all day and live entertainment. Festival closes on Sunday, Feb. 17, with a reception.

Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel Foundation for Global Understanding and Freedom Health are the presenting sponsors.

For more details about the film festival, film school, cultural performance opportunities, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities visit www.IIFFTampa.com or call (813) 308-9797.


Start the New Year with a pledge to do something positive for your health, “the power to heal lies within you” says Vipin Mehta, an Orlando-based businessman and author of “Global Healing.” Mehta will conduct four seminars on “Healing Yourself by the Ways of Metaphysics” at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens in Winter Park. His talk on self-healing is connected to the Pancha Koshas of the Vedanta/Yogic system. Kosha literally means sheath or layer and each of the five koshas leads to the center of one’s pure consciousness or self-realization. Mehta incorporates this knowledge in his seminars and shows the student how to use the inherent self-healing power within each one to overcome some of the stress-related maladies prevalent in modern society and attain a state of bliss and health.

Each course will consist of a question-and-answer period, breaks, meditation and refreshments. The first discourse, “Conscious Healing Mantra and Life Is a Pilgrimage,” will teach attendees about "the compelling forces of needs, the propelling forces of desire and the driving forces of knowing," according to his Web site. The second discourse, “Nature of Health: Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit Integrative Relationship” will focus on how to integrate these relationships throughout their life to maintain good health. The third discourse, “Exploring and Discovering the Power of Healing and Spiritual Anatomy of the Human Being” will teach attendees about the spiritual anatomy of human beings and how to achieve personal healing. In the fourth discourse, “Modalities of Healing and Introduction to Metaphysics,” attendees will learn about the various modalities of healing and determine which is appropriate for them.

The three-hour seminars will be on Jan. 6, 13, 27 and Feb. 3 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The cost per session is $30 and all proceeds will support the Polasek Museum. For reservations, call the museum office at (407) 647-6294.



The Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) celebrated its 25th anniversary on Dec. 15 during a benefit gala at the Bahia Shrine. The chief guest was Ajit Kumar, newly appointed Consul General of the Indian consulate in Atlanta. About 400 HSCF members and well-wishers attended the musical show, which featured a concert by Sangam group. The entry to the auditorium had a rangoli design by Minal Saoji and a display of events at the temple during the past 25 years.

The fundraising show began with the HSCF youth lighting the lamp, followed by a traditional Deepam dance, welcome speech by the chairman and president and a 10 minute video presentation of the history of the temple narrated by many of the Hindu temple’s founding members, devotees and youth. The grand finale was an energetic dance by the temple youth to the tune of Jai Ho and choreographed by Geeta Raj and Kishor Pathare, who also did the stage decorations. The event was led by Mala Karkhanis and Tino Patel.

The next day, more than a 100 devotees participated in a traditional Sri Ganesh puja, which featured 1208 modaks made by devotees. Mahaprasad was served to about 300 devotees.  

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