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Story provided by AILA

Dilip Patel of Clearwater has been elected as Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association – Central Florida Chapter for the year commencing in June. AILA is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. The Central Florida Chapter with more than 250 attorney members is part of the almost 10,000 member national AILA. As Chair, Patel will be the chapter’s representative on the National Board of Directors of AILA. The longtime Florida was honored to be elected and looks forward to serving as Chair, especially in view of all the immigration-related activities expected in the coming year. He said, “AILA advocates immigration reform. If immigration law is reformed as proposed by the President, we will play a very active role in ensuring that the provisions are well understood by those impacted and those who represent them.”

In other news, Patel also has been selected for inclusion in the current edition of “The Best Lawyers in America” for immigration law. Published biennially since 1983, “The Best Lawyers in America” is widely regarded as the preeminent referral guide to the legal profession in the United States. The “Best Lawyers” lists, representing 57 specialties in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., are compiled through an exhaustive peer-review survey in which thousands of the top lawyers in the U.S. confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current, 12th edition of “Best Lawyers” (2006), is based on more than 1.5 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

Patel, can be reached at (727) 712-0066 or via e-mail at or click on


Story provided by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh

More than 100 people attended an exhibition on Hindu culture and Dharmic traditions of India recently at the Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa.

Chief guest Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia recognized the contributions of the Hindu community in Hillsborough County.

The exhibition began with a brief introduction of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and Hindu history presented by Yashwant Belsare, Southeast HSS coordinator, and Nainan Desai, president of HSS Tampa chapter.

Judith Kennedy, principal of Greco Middle School, said, “The exhibition gives me a better understanding of Hindu religion.” Kennedy said her favorite poster was “The Hindu Way,” which highlights the culture and values of Hindus. She particularly agreed with the 10 commitments, one of which focused on respecting teachers and elders.

The exhibition consisted of 31 posters that covered different aspects of Hindu Dharma, customs, culture and religions evolved from India such as Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

For information, contact Nikunj Dave (305) 431-9312 or e-mail


Director Shundell Prasad visits India during the making of “Once More Removed.”

Meet Shundell Prasad, who recently made her directorial debut with “Once More Removed: A Journey Back to India.” The one-hour documentary chronicles the 25-year-old’s journey across three continents to uncover the reasons behind her family’s removal from native India and then later from Guyana, her birth country.

In this coming-of-age film, the search takes the viewer from the vibrant Indo-Caribbean neighborhoods in Queens, New York City, to the sweltering hot sugarcane fields of Guyana, where men toil over the land as their forefathers did a century ago when they were brought to the cane fields as indentured servants by the British.

The journey continues from Guyana, where ship records are secured from the National Archives to the ports of Calcutta, where the 19th century East India Company ships carried human cargo out of India to distant lands. From Calcutta, the filmmaker journeys into the land of her ancestors in Bihar, where massive crowds await the sight of a returned daughter.

Prasad is a graduate of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where she majored in film and television production. Shundell also has worked with HBO documentaries.

Director Shundell Prasad visits India during the making of “Once More Removed.”

“I started researching this film while I was still in university, simply because I wanted to know why I looked Indian, but did not have any connections or ties with India,” says Prasad in an exclusive interview with Khaas Baat. “During the process, I became aware of the massive international Indian Diaspora, which is estimated to be well over 20 million people … 20 million stories, many of which are not rosy success tales, but rather stories of displacement, struggle and survival, like my family’s story from India to Guyana and finally to America.

The New York City resident believes and rightly so that “great injustices have been committed against these people … many people know about the injustices committed against South African Indians because of Gandhiji’s crusade, but the stories from East Africa, Guyana and Fiji are overwhelmingly disturbing. The current story of the Gulf migrant laborers has to be recognized and dealt with as well.”

Prasad attributes the catchy title of the documentary to NYU Professor George Stoney. “The actual meaning of this title speaks of migration, of displacement, of lost-identity, all major issues, which are raised in the film. We are a people who are twice removed: first from our native India, and again from our birth country, Guyana. Therefore, we are once more removed.”

What’s next for Shundell Prasad? Another documentary? “Most of my training was in fiction filmmaking — working with actors, etc.,” she replies. “I have a few films in development right now. I’m hoping to begin production by the end of summer on my next film. The issue of the Indian Diaspora has captured my interest, so I think it’s a theme you will see in my upcoming works.”

To purchase a copy of the documentary ($19.95), click on or e-mail



AKMG Convention Chair Dr. Aravind Pillai

About 800 people are expected to attend the 27th annual Association of Kerala Medical Graduates (AKMG) Convention July 20-23 at Peabody Hotel in Orlando.

Over 2,500 physicians belonging to this organization of physicians of Kerala heritage from India practice in North America.

Educational activities include eight hours of CME lectures covering a variety of topics and exhibits by pharmaceutical as well as medical students/residents. Nearly 30 exhibition boots will be set up. Other activities will be yoga and meditation, sports and games, surprise guest comedian from Kerala, cooking classes and a gala banquet featuring a musical night by reputed playback singers.

There is no last date for registration. For more information, call convention chair Dr. Aravind Pillai at (407) 718-8733, AKMG President Dr. Abdul Karim at (321) 591-6957 or click on




Opening a new store or restaurant? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you as Khaas Baat recently kicked off this new column to meet the rising needs of businesses and our readers. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at






Chaat Café has opened in Tampa

Have the urge for a vegetarian Manchurian chaat? Or maybe sugarcane juice? Barf ka gola (Indian icee)? Or those delicious Rajbhog sweets? Then head on to the Chaat Café at Ganesh Market in Tampa.

The grocery store, Ganesh Market, has been owned by Achyut and Sonal Mashruwala for the last 10 years. “We felt now is the right time to open a chaat house,” says Achyut Mashruwala. “I must give credit to the folks at St. Joseph and Tampa General hospitals who visit my store regularly and motivated me to open this vegetarian restaurant.” Incidentally, Mashruwala comes from a family of restaurateurs in Ahmedabad.

The 2,900-square-foot store and café also caters Gujarati, North and South Indian cuisine.

Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Ganesh Market & Chaat Café is at 6204 N. Armenia Ave., Tampa, FL 33604. For information, call (813) 873-8708, (813) 857-5103 or e-mail


Tampa Grocery in Brandon has relocated into a bigger store

Within a span of just three years, Tampa Grocery in Brandon already has relocated into a bigger store in the same plaza. Owner T. Thomas of course is ecstatic with the success of his fairly young business.

“We can now display more products and there is plenty of room for customers in the front area to meet and socialize with their friends,” he says. The store pulls in customers from Plant City, Lakeland, Bradenton/Sarasota, and of course the Brandon/Valrico area.

Thomas stresses that he caters to every Indian community. “We carry Hindi, Malayalee, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada film DVDs and CDs,” he says. “I am always working with the customers’ choice, not my choice.”

Tampa Grocery is open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. For information on the store at 819 E. Brandon Blvd. (State Road 60), Oakwood Plaza, Brandon, FL 33511, call (813) 655-8900.

Introducing PEHCHAAN (our identity)

The South Asian American community of Tampa Bay is a growing one that continues to expand at a steady pace. We recognize that as we settle here we experience adjustment pains. These difficulties do not have to remain so or keep increasing. We can learn to solve the problems as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

We are working towards starting a non-profit organization ‘PEHCHAAN’ (Providing Educational, Humanistic and Cultural Hope for the south Asian American Network), in the Tampa Bay area. Our mission statement is to improve the quality of life for the South Asian American community through education and awareness.

We plan to have workshops on topics such as communication skills, parenting skills, stress management, anger management, values’ conflict, etc. We also would like to have group discussions for adolescents, young adults, college students, newcomers, women, men, senior adults, etc. Film and book discussions could be generated along with talks and seminars by people in the community.

We want to welcome you to volunteer your time and energy for the cause.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, e-mail us at or call (813) 810.2470.


On June 17, the annual Saint Annamacharya Jayanthi was celebrated at the Hindu Society of North East Florida temple in the Jacksonville/Orange Park area. The mystic saint composer of the 15th century is the earliest known South Indian musician to compose songs called “sankeertanas” in praise of Lord Venkateswara.

Devotees presented a Sankeerthana, followed by five songs in praise of Saint Annamacharya, composed by his son and grandson. This was done as per tradition in Thirumala Devasthanam in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. The group song was followed by a rendering of Annamacharya Keerthanas by individual devotees.

-- Krish Seetharaman


Story provided by Hindu Temple of Florida

More than 400 people are expected to attend the eighth annual Health Fair on Saturday, July 8, organized by the Hindu Temple of Florida, 5511 Lynn Road, Tampa. The 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. event in the temple’s community hall has been coordinated once again by Dr. Renuka Ramappa along with a group of volunteer physicians, pharmaceuticals representatives and health care professionals. Screenings are conducted for cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, osteoporosis, dental problems, obesity, eye and hearing exams, and more. This year, the organizers will be introducing information on anti-aging, overactive bladder, anaphylactic reactions. The screenings are free and so is the medical advice provided by expert physicians. There also will be discussions on various health awareness topics. New this year, Dr. Ramappa will be introducing information on anti-aging.

“One of the aims of conducting the Health Fair is to inculcate a sense of health awareness among the members of the community so that they may take care of themselves before they get into serious medical problems,” said Dr. Ramappa.

For information, contact Dr. Renuka Ramappa at (727) 863-5975 or click


Dr. Uma Eyyunni

On June 10, Dr. Uma Eyyunni of St. Augustine had the honor of her music CD released by Padmabhushan Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna at a Hindu Temple Of Atlanta.

The well-known Carnatic music stalwart from India enthralled the audience in a fully packed temple auditorium and, after his recital, released the audio CD “Samarpayami.” The lyrics are in Sanskrit, divided into three main chapters.

Dr. Balamuralikrishna rendered his unique voice to the beautiful yet simple lyrics under the titles of “Sapta swarajhari -- about the basic musical notes; ”Navavidha bhakthi” -- the nine forms of devotion; and “Adwitheeyam Sankhya kadhanam,” denoting the prominence of numbers in mythology. The music was composed by B.V. Balasai of Chennai and the English voice overlay was done by Eyyunni with electronic support from Srinivas Kishore of Tallahassee.

Proceeds from the sale of copies sold that day were donated to the Hindu Temple Of Atlanta. The audio CD can be purchased from on the Web.


Story provided by Dr. M. C. Jothishankar

Sita and Balaji Jothishankar practicing what they learnt in their Yoga class.

Bradenton/Sarasota community enjoyed a blissful experience this summer. Kids from the ages 7 through 13 attended a Kids Yoga Camp June 9-18, organized by Isha Yoga Foundation. The camp took place at the Tara Preserve Community Center in Bradenton.

Isha Yoga for Children offers a unique possibility for every child to experience a joyful blossoming of their natural potential. Isha Yoga celebrates the natural gifts within every child beginning with the wonder and sense of oneness with life. The program provides a learning experience and exploration of fun, love and joy.

The word Isha means the formless primordial source of creation and Isha Foundation -- a non-profit organization founded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev -- plays a vital role in the well-being of the individual and the world. Sadhguru introduces yoga as a science for expansion of human consciousness and a modern day tool to live in health, inner peace, freedom and bliss.

With the success of this program and the overwhelming response, Isha volunteers Mohan Govindan and Jothishankar are working towards the next steps of bringing Sadhguru – a five-day program called Inner Engineering for adults -- to the Tampa Bay area in early November.

For more information on this upcoming Inner Engineering program, call Jothishankar at (941) 755-9303, e-mail or click on



Over 5,000 people attended the opening of the Hindu Society of Central Florida temple in Casselberry last year

Two temples in Florida - Hindu Society of Central Florida (HSCF) in the Casselberry/Orlando area and the Swaminarayan Temple in Lakeland – are celebrating their one-year anniversary in July.
The July 7-9 event at HSCF in Orlando will include Brahmotsav pujas. The Agamas in the Vedic literature describe the puja as a celebration of the establishment of the divinity of the deities in a temple. Mahendra Kapadia, chairman of the HSCF Board of Trustees, hopes this event and the divinity “will inspire and motivate the devotees to be of service to mankind.”

Traditionally, this celebration is conducted over seven days with special pujas for specific deities each day, the last day being the most spectacular, with elaborate flower and light decorations and a Rath Yata/Rathotsavam for the temple deities. The HSCF temple devotees will participate in a Rath Yatra in the temple grounds.


In June 2005, the temple celebrated its Mahakumbabhishekam with ancient rituals in a joyous atmosphere. The five days were full of awe-inspiring ancient rituals. More than 5,000 devotees attended the pujas. Planning for last year’s temple opening ceremonies took a great deal of effort; Anil Deshpande, chairman of the Mahakumbabhishekam organizing committe, with the help of various committees and hundreds of volunteers, worked on it for more than a year. Shan Shankar, a volunteer at that event, says it honed his organizing and leadership skills since he had to “keep track of inventory of over hundreds of items for 80 events during the whole week.” The July pujas will require a similar high degree of planning and coordination.

The first year of the establishment of the temple has been a great success. Since June of 2005, many new programs were started are continuing with great gusto. The number of devotees attending the daily and Sunday aartis has increased greatly; the temple has many services for the devotees, such as satsangs, bhajans, and special deity pujas. It also has expanded the music, dance, language, classes, etc., and a new canteen is open on the weekends.

All three days, there will be Mahaprasad and some cultural performances every evening. The HSCF temple invites everyone to come to the holy event and participate in the continuous and ancient rituals to purify our selves and maintain the inherent unity, Dr. Aravind Pillai, member of the Board of Trutees, emphasizes this by saying “all Hindus from everywhere are like family members and the temple extends a warm welcome to all to attend this celebration and pujas.”

For more information on the HSCF temple at 1994 Lake Drive in Casselberry, call (407) 699-5277 or click on

The Swaminarayan Temple in Lakeland also will be holding its first Patotsav (re-consecration ceremony) from July 12-16. “There will also be Pran Pratishtha for the ShriNathji and RamChandraji Murtis at the same time,” says organizer Dilip Shah. “As far as we know, this will be the first temple in Florida to have the ShriNathji Murti.”

For more information on the Lakeland temple at 2793 New Tampa Highway, call (863) 682-8260.

Taraana presents 'Jhankaar' in Tampa

Story provided by Taraana School of Music

About 270 people attended a multi-lingual, multi-cultural variety show, ‘Jhankaar,” recently at the Hindu Temple of Florida in Tampa. The evening show was presented by Sharmistha Banerjee, founder of 'Taraana' School of Music (

Participating in this celebration of the New Year (many Indian states welcome their new year during April and May) were 53 local artists, adults as well as teens and kids.

Complimentary dinner was served during the ticketed show.

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 new recipes submitted by Khaasbaat readers from all over Tampa Bay. Also read features on new food businesses and books.
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Youth Highlights And Column
Every parent can remember a time when his or her beautiful baby changed into a screaming bundle of protoplasm. There is no frustration that can compare to knowing that you have absolutely no idea what your infant is trying to tell you. If he could only talk...

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