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Parita Patel & baby Krinna.

On June 24, Parita Patel got Krinna back. "It was indeed a pleasant surprise and I wasn’t expecting this at all," the happy and excited mother told Khaas Baat. The DCF and Patel's attorney have come to an arrangement that if she stays in America, then she should stay in Florida for six months minimum and attend parenting classes. She also is free to go back to India anytime.


Imagine the following scenario:

You are visiting a strange land. You get struck by a car and thereafter find that you are pregnant. You move to a different city to be closer to friends. In this new city, you give birth to a baby who is just weeks later taken away from you by the state.

This is the story of Parita Patel, a native of Gujarat, who is fighting the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) to get her baby daughter Krinna back.

Here is the 22-year-old’s story in her own words, translated into English from mostly Gujarati, with the help of Malti Pandya, one of the local Indian American community members who has been helping Patel.

PARITA PATEL: “I am from a small village outside Nadiad. I arrived in the New Jersey/New York area last October on a visitor’s visa to see some friends. I had plans to go back to India in February but on Jan. 24, I met with a car accident in New Jersey. This started all my problems. That’s when my doctor informed me that I was pregnant and I couldn’t go back home till after the baby was born.

After several therapy sessions, I arrived in Tampa. I have some friends who live in an apartment on 22nd Street and Fowler Avenue, which is where I have been since. I had to visit the hospital frequently because my accident had led to further complications and I was told that the baby would be prematurely born.

On May 13, I gave birth to my 4 ½ pound baby, Krinna. The doctor told me to stay at a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital to be closer to Krinna instead of commuting to my friend’s apartment, which is quite a distance.

Then a social worker visited me and asked me: Do I have a home? Do I work? I replied no to both the questions. On May 31, the DCF took Krinna away right in front of my eyes. The case worker kept on asking me why I didn’t go back to India instead of coming to Florida when I found out I was pregnant in New Jersey. I told her that it took me just two hours to come here, while it would have taken me 35 hours to take a flight and go home. The worker didn’t seem to understand my situation. I have been calling my husband, Vikesh, and my family to keep them informed about what has happened. They just cannot believe it. All I want is to have my baby back.”

On June 17, at a circuit court hearing in Tampa, DCF accused Patel of failing to get prenatal care for Krinna. DCF spokesman Andrew Ritter told Khaas Baat that he couldn’t speak about the case because of confidentiality issues. Patel’s trial date is set for July 6.

However, the Indian American community in the Tampa Bay area, along with attorneys Scott Davis and Amit Dehra, is gearing up for the trial. “We will be presenting two affidavits to the court: one is from the Hindu Temple of Florida, which is offering Parita a mobile home so she can stay and take care of Krinna,” said Malti Pandya in an interview with Khaas Baat. “We also have an affidavit from a physician in Pinellas County who is offering his beach house for Parita and Krinna. We are hoping once we prove to the court that Parita has a home that she can go to and also has financial support, the judge will rule in her favor. People in the Indian community have stepped up to pay the bills for the attorneys, who graciously have discounted their fees.”

Pandya believes the case stems from a misunderstanding between Parita and the social worker who interviewed her. “It was complete miscommunication,” she said.

Patel, whose visa expires on July 7, has filed an extension till Oct. 20. She hopes to return to India once she obtains a passport and visa for her baby Krinna, who is a U.S. citizen.

If you would like to help Parita Patel, call Malti Pandya at (813) 431-9731 or send a donation to Hindu Temple of Florida, c/o Krinna Patel, 5106 N. Armenia Ave., Suite 3, Tampa, FL 33603.

Dr. Akshay Desai of St. Petersburg and President George W. Bush anf Gov. Jeb Bush.
White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific islanders joins AMA Commission

Dr. Akshay Desai of St. Petersburg will be a representative of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative), which has been incorporated as a member of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Commission to End Health Care Disparities. The AMA panel was formed in response to the Institute of Medicine’s report, “Unequal Treatment,” which acknowledged health disparities as resulting from multiple factors, including race and ethnicity.

A member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and chairman of its Subcommittee on Health, Desai commended the AMA “for recognizing that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders suffer from high incidence of health disparities and adding the Initiative to its membership so that the concerns of the AAPI community can be discussed and addressed in the solutions being developed.”

The President’s Advisory Commission on AAPI began addressing the issue of eliminating health disparities within the AAPI community as part of the recommendations made by its report, “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Addressing Health Disparities – Opportunities for Building a Healthier America,” presented to President George W. Bush in 2003.

The report found, among other things, that some subpopulations of Asian and Pacific Islanders are disproportionately at risk from cancer and cardiovascular disease; AAPI women in the United States, who have the lowest rates of cancer, are however diagnosed at a later stage of cancer; AAPIs account for more than half of the 1.3 million hepatitis B cases and half of the deaths resulting from the infection; AAPIs have a higher percentage of tuberculosis than all other racial and ethnic groups; and Asian American seniors are less likely to receive social services and medical care because of language and cultural barriers.

Desai is founder of the American Family and Geriatric Care in St. Petersburg, as well as CEO and president of Universal Health Care, a managed care organization.

Information for this story was provided by the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

More than 300 people attended a Youth Forum and a Hindu Awareness Campaign (HAC) event June 5 organized by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) at India Cultural Center in Tampa. About $125,000 was raised to ensure HAF could continue its march for Hindus in the U.S. and abroad.

The Youth Forum, held in the afternoon for middle school, high school and college-aged individuals attracted 60 attendees. “HAF’s goal was to foster a sense of pride among the youth in their Hindu identity and to instill the confidence to act when called upon to defend Hindu interests,” said Nikhil N. Joshi, HAF board member and Tampa resident.

In the evening, HAF leaders detailed its evolution from Feb. 2, 2004, the date on which the organization was launched. HAF represents Hindu interests within the power centers of government, academia and the media. “The Tampa Bay community once again has generously blessed HAF with the resources to make a real difference for Hindus in America and, quite frankly, Hindus across the globe,” said Joshi.

Echoing his thoughts were Rajan Patel, HAF Executive Council member. “HAF sincerely thanks the community for sharing HAF’s vision for a more tolerant, understanding and pluralistic society. We look forward to continuing our efforts on the community’s behalf,” he said.

HAF’s presentations were led by members of its Board of Directors: Mihir Meghani, Aseem Shuka, Suhag Shukla, Swaminathan Venkataraman, Adeeti Joshi and Sheetal D. Shah.

For more information about HAF, check out

Information for this story was provided by the Hindu American Foundation.


About 300 people attended the seventh annual Health Fair on June 11 at the Hindu Temple of Florida community hall in Tampa. Dr. Renuka Ramappa was the chief coordinator of the event, which drew free test screenings by medical professionals in the Tampa Bay area.

There were about 10 medical booths checking blood pressure, blood sugar, eye testing, ear testing, cholesterol, body fat analysis, oxygen content in the body and dental care.

For more information on the Hindu Temple, click on


“Mystic India” follows Neelkanth, a young boy who walked for seven years and 8,000 miles across this vast majestic land.
Story provided by MOSI

The Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa is looking to bring the film “Mystic India: An Incredible Journey of Inspiration” to its IMAX® Dome theater. In fact, MOSI would like to make the film available for free to the people of Tampa Bay. To achieve the goal, it is looking for sponsorship totaling $100,000 so the film can be shown on a daily schedule and various weekends throughout the year.

“The film presents that there is unity in diversity and that we are all one people; we share the same sky, walk the same earth, and breathe the same air; that we are a single human family,” said Judith Lombana, vice president of research and institutional development for MOSI. “We do several cultural events all year-round and feel that this is a must-see for our community.”

Festival scenes in “Mystic India” are large and spectacular.
“Mystic India: an Incredible Journey of Inspiration” transports you back to 18th century India, revealing an ancient culture and civilization. The film explores India’s geographic and cultural diversity, soars over the natural beauty of the land and architecture and celebrates its festivals, colorful customs and spiritual wonders.

The film follows Neelkanth, a young boy who walked for seven years and 8,000 miles across this vast majestic land. “Mystic India” also takes an interesting look at the amazing power of yoga and meditation. In the film, Neelkanth survives incredibly harsh conditions, a phenomenon that Harvard scientists researching modern day yogis’ in India has proved to be possible.

A presentation of BAPS Care International, “Mystic India” is narrated by Sir Peter O’Toole, the legendary English actor. Photographed by award-winning photographer Reed Smoot and directed by the well-known and respected Keith Melton, the film is distributed by Giant Screen Films. More than 45,000 volunteers helped recreate authentic scenes for the film. Festivals seen in the film are large and spectacular. Massive crowds celebrate the 2500-year-old Festival of Chariots. Thousands take part in the celebrations including the annual Festival of Lights and Festival of Colors.

In this 45-minute film, shot in more than 100 locations, audiences are taken from the freezing peaks of the Himalayas to the nation’s scorching deserts and tropical rainforests; across fields and rivers and to small remote villages, all along witnessing the sheer natural beauty of India as well as the incredible achievements of its people. The film explores India’s extensive and accomplished history and its important contributions to the world, from astronomy and aviation to atomic physics, geometry and mathematics.

Several sponsorship options ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 are available though MOSI is open to smaller donations. “We would like students of all schools, private and public, to come see the film,” said Lombana. “We are trying to make a commitment to the producers by Aug. 1 so that we can alert teachers at the beginning of the year.”

For more information, call Lombana at (813) 987-6331 or send an e-mail at Also, click on



Attendees to the July 9 Asian American Convenience Store Association (AACSA) convention and trade show are in for a treat at the India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road in Tampa.

While the activities continue, the organizers will be holding Miss India Florida pageant between 12:30 to 2 p.m., according to convention president Satya Shaw.

“We are expecting about a 1,000 people to come watch the pageant,” he said. The 15 contestants will be from Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Miami and Sarasota. The pageant will include an Indian dress and showcasing of talent. The winner will participate in the Miss India USA pageant on Aug. 20 in Tampa.

The judges will be two each from Orlando, Miami and Tampa. Emcees will be TV personality Tanaaz Currim (of “Yeh Meri Life Ha” fame) and Florida deejay Mystina.

For more information on Miss India Florida, call Satya Shaw at (813) 842-0345.


The 13,000-square-foot temple in Casselberry held Kumbhabhishekam and Pranapratishta (grand opening) celebrations on June 15-19. The massive $2.7 million project took less than two years to complete. Story, page 11.
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We are beginning a series of articles on the “Wisdom of the Yoga Vasistha.” We attempt to bring to the surface the embedded wisdom, which can be applied to one’s everyday life. The expressions of the writer will be contemporary, truths are eternal but the method of _expression will be conversational. We will move in and out of the story to bring subtle points to the forefront. It is not a scholarly approach but will be shared as a story and discussion in the hopes of involving the readers in the joint venture of mutual exploration.

Swami Suryadevananda

Lord Rama finished the period of tutelage under his family guru, Rishi Vasistha, and returned back to the palace of his father, King Dasaratha, in Ayodhya for his princely duties.

Time ticked by and one day, Rama felt that he should venture out into the lands for a pilgrimage to see the length and breadth of life beyond the sheltered and sequestered view that he was gradually getting accustomed to. Learning has to be validated through our living; it is through vigilant living that learning fructifies into knowing or else it is just another burden to carry around. A pilgrimage is not so much the visiting of holy places, but venturing out of our comfort zone of accepted understanding.

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About 2,000 people are expected to attend the June 29-July 3 opening ceremonies of the Swaminarayan Temple at 2793 New Tampa Highway in Lakeland. The Murti Pratishtha Mahotsav will be held Sunday, July 3.
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Thomas Umer Tevana

Meet Thomas Umer Tevana -- the only Indian American on the list of the “50 Hottest Bachelors” list in the 40-million readership People magazine (June 27 issue). Remember the Indian American FBI agent in the controversial “Jo Bole So Nihaal?” Yeah, that was Tevana. He now joins the ranks of such actors as Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Colin Farrell in People magazine’s top bachelors ranking.
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By Nitish S. Rele

When she was just 23 years old, Vimala Gade was struck with rheumatoid arthritis. The inflammatory disease affects the facet joins in the spine, hands, feet, wrists, knees, hips and shoulders, resulting in deformities and disability over time. At that time, the present New Jersey resident was an elementary teacher in India.

Born and raised in Orissa, Gade came to the U.S. in 1988 for further treatment of the disease. “One of my two sisters who lives here sponsored my visit,” she said in an interview over the phone. “At the time I arrived, my whole body was in pain. I had to have a hip and knee replacement and wrist surgery. Then I started walking and even now my hands don’t perform well.”

How did Gade take an interest in painting? “I used to watch TV personality Bob Ross’ ‘Joy of Painting’ on a New York channel,” she replied. “You could say that his paintings inspired me. I began with markers before using paint. In India, when I was a teacher, I used to sketch small drawings.”

With the continued interest in painting, Gade completed an eight-month correspondence course in fine arts. “Then I did water colors, oil paintings, pencils,” she said. “Right now, I like acrylics.”

It is remarkable that the 48-year-old, who also teaches children to paint, had her work on display in April at the ArtFirst! Exhibit in Princeton, New Jersey. She plans to hold a solo exhibit in the near future. “It usually takes me 2-3 hours to paint,” she said. “Any big paintings take 2-4 days. I like to paint portraits, landscapes, water scenes and most of all, portraits of children.”

What is it about painting that brings so much satisfaction? “It is relaxing and gives me a lot of strength,” she said. “Earlier on, I used to be angry with the condition of my health. But now, I want to help others via art therapy. I feel fresh and alive when I paint.”

Gade looks to participate in a United Way of Central Jersey art exhibit in August.

Art lovers can reach (732) 422-4320 or via e-mail at

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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Check out the recipes for Alubukhara wala Lauki Kofta. The combination of bottle gourd and dry plums (Alubukhara) sounds unfamiliar, but it does taste exceptional. The gravy of tomatoes and basil compliments the complex flavor of the croquettes. Read Story

Youth Highlights
The theory of multiple intelligences (MI) was first proposed by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, in 1983. The paradigm proposes that the traditional view of intelligence, most often based on Intelligence Quotient (IQ), is too limiting. Instead, Gardner suggests that there are multiple types of intelligences that humans possess. The current MI model distinguishes nine specific intelligences.
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