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Story provided by Adinarayanamurthy Nallamshetty

The Hindu Society of Central Florida in Casselberry (Orlando area) will celebrate its fourth temple anniversary and Brahmotsavam Festival from June 19-21.

During this event, Sahasra Kalasabhishekam will be performed. This auspicious religious activity involves prayers with 1,116 kalasams made of silver and copper filled with holy waters. The special prayer has the power to bring peace, prosperity and well-being to the community by removing obstacles, calamities and ill health.

Witnesses to the Sahasra Kalasabhishekam obtain the fruits of bathing in the sacred rivers such as Ganges, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. Kalasabhishekam signifies an absolute surrender to God of all one's possessions with ultimate goal of reaching Him directly.

During this event, three important Havans/Homams will be performed - Ganesh Homam, Chandi Homam and Vishnu Sahasranama Homam. Devotees will have an opportunity to participate in all events.

In addition, religious entertainment programs such as a devotional musical program by popular singer Anoop Jalota, classical dance and musical program, Hari Katha recital and Garba will be presented.

Sponsorships are available from $250 up to $25,000. Sponsors will be able to participate in all the events on all three days and will be blessed with Kalasam, shawl and fruits at the end of the ceremony.

The Hindu Society of Central Florida is at 1994 Lake Drive in Casselberry or call (407) 699-5621 or visit

Schools such as this one in rural India will benefit from the Tampa Ekal Vidyalaya fundraiser set June 20.

The annual Ekal Charity Concert held by Ekal Vidyalaya will be held at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 20 at India Cultural Center (5511 Lynn Road) in Tampa.

Providing entertainment will be the Sushil Baweja Group, which will sing ghazals, bhajans and old/new Bollywood hits. Besides Sushil Baweja, performers include Preet Prerana, Ashok Pandey and Kumar Jai. Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 each with dinner included.

A charitable trust, Ekal ( initiates, supports and runs non-formal one-teacher schools in India. The movement strives to create a network of non-formal schools and health education that will educate and empower children in rural and tribal India.

For more information, call Jawahar Taunk at (727) 480-3829, Chandresh Saraiya at (813) 309-0647 or Ram Jakhotia at (813) 962-4172.

Pujya Deepakbhai
By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

For the first time in Jacksonville, a self-realized person, Pujya Deepakbhai Desai from India, will be presenting Akram Vignan Live.

Pujya Deepakbhai is a direct disciple of Gnani Dada Bhagwan and a contemporary of Niruma.

He will be explain the actual scientific basis regarding vexing questions like "who am I", what are bondages, how to be free of bondages, how to get rid of worries, anger, greed, who is God, Is there a solution for our daily puzzles, etc." in practical terms.

Pujya Deepakbhai will be in Jacksonville from Wednesday, June 17, till Friday, June 19. All events are free to the public. Free dinners will be served. Main events are in the evenings from 6:30 at the Land Mark Middle School, 101 Kernan Blvd., Jacksonville. There will be real-time English translation of these talks offered during the program for those who do not understand Gujarati. Talks are usually a brief general introduction followed by questions from the audience.

To learn more about Dada Bhagwan, visit

For registration to attend the events and Gnan Vidhi, scroll down to Florida events in the link:

For more information, call Sudhir Patel at (904) 743-7327 or V. S. Narayan at (904) 737-1674.

Ranakumar Nadella
By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

About 5,000 people are expected to attend the first America Telugu Sambaralu July 2-4 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

A newly formed tax-exempt association, National America Telugu Society (NATS) is the organizer of the bi-annual event. "Telugus need to take care of Telugus in North America," said NATS President Ranakumar Nadella. "Preserving and propagating our culture is OK, but our focus is on service-oriented activities. We want to bring a large number of people together to this conference that is geared toward families."

Andhra Pradesh Governor N.D. Tiwari launched the logo of North American Telugu Society March 17 at Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad. In the photo are Ghazal Srinivas and Tiwari.
On the agenda during the three-day event are spiritual, literary and CME programs, youth activities, commercial exhibits, alumni group meets, a women's forum, Keeravani music concert, etc. There also will be panel discussion on how to teach Telugu to children of Telugu origin in North America.

According to Nadella, there are between 600,000 to 700,000 people of Telugu origin in the United States. "So far, the response to the convention has been good. "There is a lot of enthusiasm," he said. "We have kept the registration at just $100 a person. And with Orlando being a family-oriented town, we are expecting a good turnout."

To register online, visit For more information on NATS, call Nadella at (770) 645-5674, e-mail [email protected] or visit


One of the biggest hits on the Gujarati musical genre scene is coming to the Sunshine State.

"Sathvaro Shri Radhe Shymno," a devotional musical saga of Radha and Krishna, will be presented Saturday, June 13, in Orlando and Sunday, June 14, in Tampa.

Highlights of the show include a dance preformed on the title song of "Kisna" film, live presentation of Shreenathji (one of the avatars of Shri Krishna), Yamunaji and other godly figures. Singers are Mridula Desai, Saurabh Mehta and Manisha Savla. Narrator is Hemali Sejpal and dance direction is by Punita Hirani. One of the biggest attractions of the show is child artist Khushali Hirani.

The 7 p.m. Orlando show will be at Dr. Phillips High School, 6500 Turkey Lake Road. The 6 p.m. Tampa presentation will be at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road.

Tickets are $30, $40 and VIP. For more information, call Jayesh Patel at (407) 460-2020 or Himanshu Bhatt at (407) 929-4311.


More than a 1,000 people are expected to participate in the annual Tampa Bay Rath Yatra (The Festival of Chariots) Sunday, June 28 at India Cultural Center, 5511 Lynn Road, in Tampa. The festival will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting with bhajans, followed by pooja at 10:30, the Rath Yatra at noon, mahaprasad at 1:30 and cultural program at 2 p.m.

In India, the holy town of Puri, Orissa, home of the Lord of the Universe, Jagannath, celebrates this festival. The temple of Jagannath, also known as Krishna, in Puri is one of India's major pilgrimage sites. The Festival of Chariots signifies Lord Jagannath's journey from the forest into the hearts of people.

Co-sponsors are Federation of Indian Associations of Tampa Bay, Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua, Florida Oriya Association, and Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay and Khaas Baat.

For puja, sponsorship and more information, call Event Chair Satish Sharma at (813) 877-2192 or Chandrakant Patel at (813) 340-5505.

From left to right: Regina Mirabella, R.N., Lola Pollack, R.N., Marcia Hanshaw, R.N., awards presenter Dr. Rao Musunuru (not shown is Jessica Hollingsworth, R.N.)

On May 8, in conjunction with National Nurses Week, Good Samaritan Health Clinic hosted a fundraiser in honor of local nurses. "Nurse of the Year" was recognized in four different categories selected among 18 nominees. The awards were presented at the gala by Dr. Rao Musunuru, a board member and External Relations Committee Chair. The winners are Marcia Hanshaw, R.N., Jessica Hollingsworth, R.N., Regina Mirabella, R.N. and Lola Pollack, R.N.

The event raised $62,000, which helps the clinic to provide indigent medical care. Any other assistance to the clinic will be appreciated. For more information, call (727) 848-7789

Story provided by Manjusha Naik, Pehchaan member

PEHCHAAN, a non-profit organization in Tampa Bay providing educational, humanistic and cultural hope for the South Asian American network, conducted an essay-writing competition for youth (grades 3-12) on April 19. Its purpose was to create an interest in our culture and start addressing issues for further adjustments in the culture.

There were three age categories: elementary, middle and high. Each was given a specific topic about growing up in South Asian American communities and had 45 minutes to write.

The awards were declared on April 26. Trophies along with cash prizes were given out to the top three winners of each group.

In the elementary school category, first place was Simran Giri; second place was Amruta Potdar; and an honorable mention was Varna Venkatachalam.

In the middle school category, first place was Nandita Kotwani; second place was Sameer Naik; and an honorable mention was Shaurya Bandyopadhyay.

In the high school category, taking first place was Spandan Bandyopadhyay; second place was Ravin Sajnani; and an honorable mention was Ashwini Bhide.

The judges were from the field of education and journalism. The judges' panel consisted of Shephali Joshi Rele (co-editor of Khaas Baat newspaper), Daksha Jadeja (a Kumon Math and Reading Supplemental Program teacher), Bijaya Bose (a Language Arts instructor at King High School) and Radhika Lothe-Kaore (a German and ESOL instructor at USF).

An open forum with parents, kids and judges was held to discuss their views and important issues were brought to light.

Submitted by Komal Kirtikar, workshop participant

It is 4:45 p.m. on Friday, your 8-year-old has been waiting for 20 minutes to be picked up from soccer practice, your wife desperately needs you to bring mirchi home now otherwise her disastrous subzi will be all the gossip at tonight's dinner party, and you are stuck in line at the bank with the world's slowest teller.

Do you:

a) yell "Before we are all your age, Grandma!" 10 people ahead of you,

b) curse under your breath before apologizing to the wide-eyed toddler who was within earshot,

c) silently sulk and pop another TUMS to appease your ulcers?

This is just one example of scenarios discussed at Pehchaan's "Learning to Manage Your Anger" workshop on May 17 in Tampa. The event was the second of Pehchaan's anger management workshop series. Paul Pushkarna, a licensed psychotherapist from Orlando, was the guest speaker. His 25 years of experience on the subject include working with inmates at the Department of Corrections in Orlando, counseling at his own practice, and teaching at Valencia Community College.

Pushkarna's presentation focused on two main objectives: first, to understand what underlying emotions trigger anger and second, to recognize how people react to these emotions both constructively and destructively. For the scientifically minded, he described the neurological and chemical reactions that occur in the brain when people feel anger.

He clearly communicated the implications of deliberately dealing with (or not dealing with) one's anger by citing violent news stories, his students' successes, and his personal experiences. He used role-play and interactive dialogue to keep the audience engaged such that they walked away with a better understanding of how to deal with those Friday evening, bank teller debacles.

Dr. Arun C. Gulani

Dr. Arun C. Gulani of Jacksonville recently received Science Achiever of the Year Award at the Sony, South Asian Excellence Awards ceremony in New York.

The South Asian Excellence Awards will be broadcast to Sony Entertainment Television's audience of in July. Created by Sony Entertainment Television Asia, the South Asian Excellence Awards was developed to honor the accomplishments and excellence of South Asian Americans.

Gulani, founding director of The Gulani Vision Institute in Jacksonville, was awarded the Science Achiever of the Year Award for his innovative, world leadership in the field of eye surgery, LASIK in particular.

With numerous inventions, techniques, protocols and classification systems named after him, Dr. Gulani has developed a reputation of being the surgeon's surgeon. Often called the "Da Vinci of eye surgery" by peers worldwide, Dr. Gulani has raised the bar to deliver results beyond 20/20.


2010 Honda Insight
By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected],

Originally introduced in 1999, the Honda Insight is back as a 2010 model year. The five-door, five-passenger sedan is equipped with a 1.3-liter inline-4 cylinder engine (with Integrated Motor Assist) that develops 98 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 123 pounds-feet of torque at 1000-1500 rpm. An electric motor supplements the power train with 13 hp at 1500 rpm. You may think that's not enough to propel the 2,734-pound car but, trust us, it is. Suspension is handled by a reliable front MacPherson strut and a rear torsion beam. The electric power rack and pinion steering is on the mark.

Sure, the exterior is sleek and futuristic. But it's when you enter the cabin and take a seat behind the tilt-and-telescopic steering column that you will be impressed. No, not with the two-tier instrument panel, the 160-watt stereo system or the automatic climate control system.

2010 Honda Insight

It's the hybrid-related indicators on the instrument panel that will astonish you. Want to boost fuel efficiency? Just press the ECON button. Also part of the Eco Assist system is the plant leaf graphics, which tracks driving habits. And keep an eye on the background of the digital speedometer. Green? That's good. Turning blue? Go easy on the feet! The gas engine in the Insight also turns off during a stop, but unlike the Prius, it needs fuel to take off from a stop. However, the electric motor acts as a generator to recapture energy when braking.

The all-new 2010 car boasts 40 mpg in city and 43 mpg on highway (10.6 gallon tank). As gasoline prices inch up, the Insight will appeal to an array of buyers. It's affordable (base-priced at $23,100 for the EX model with navigation), safe, spacious and of course environmental friendly. Besides, the Honda ( brand name touting reliability and durability should help seal the deal.

Nitish S. Rele is editor/founder of


Amol Nirgudkar

As if going through these tough economic times isn't bad enough, it is extremely disheartening to see a slew of professional financial advisors trying to make a quick buck by playing on people's fears. Fear allows rational and highly educated people to make completely irrational decisions. One of the biggest financial planning mistakes that an individual can make is buying the wrong type of life insurance.

Life insurance, by its inherent nature, is a financial product that often puts the client's interest in conflict with the advisor's interest. The financial incentive to sell the wrong insurance policy is so high that it can "blind" the most ethical of advisors into selling policies that are wrongly structured and overly expensive.

Life insurance can basically be two types: term and permanent. Generally, term life policies offer death benefits if you die before the "term" of the policy expires. It basically helps your family members in case of accidental death. If you live past the term, the money you pay in premiums is lost. Permanent life insurance offers death benefit and a savings mechanism ("cash value") whereby if you live long, you can reap some advantages of earnings on part of your premium. The purpose of this article is to discuss one type of permanent life insurance - the whole life policy and it's efficacy as an investment vehicle.

Whole life insurance is a type of permanent insurance where the premium is generally fixed and due each year over the contract life. There is usually a fixed death benefit, which may be increased over time through use of dividends or decreased by borrowing against cash values. Although some policies come with "vanishing premiums," the premiums never really vanish. They are basically paid out of the investment earnings inside of the cash values. Even with fully paid policies, the premiums can re-appear in the future based on investment performance.

The premium of permanent life insurance, including whole life, consists of three components: 1) Mortality Charge, 2) Sales Commission and Other Expenses and 3) Investment return. Most financial planners, who believe in the whole insurance policy as the panacea, promote it as the great investment vehicle especially in light of favorable tax treatment.

The biggest benefit of a whole life insurance is the "guaranteed" component of investment earnings. In addition to the guaranteed component, if the investment company does well, the returns can be even higher. Most investment gurus would agree however, that the net return on whole life insurance never exceeds 4 percent after considering all the internal and external costs and the value of tax savings. Although you can take the cash value out of the policy at any time, there are severe penalties and tax consequences to prematurely cancelling the policy. Loans against most policies also come at an above average interest rate. Imagine paying interest to borrow your own money! It also is interesting to note that the first year's sales commission to your financial advisor is almost 90 percent of the "target" premium.

In a bear market, touting whole life insurance investment performance as stellar is like calling a money market account the best performing mutual fund in the country. Investors should be wary of advisors who will take advantage of the current economic climate to scare people into buying whole life as a great investment vehicle. Certain estate planning and corporate organization scenarios are the right forums to discuss whole life and its efficacy. Investors should discuss their life insurance illustrations with at least three experts, including their CPA and other financial advisors, before making the ultimate step to buy life insurance.

Amol Nirgudkar, CPA, managing partner of Reliance Consulting LLC and a partner at Reliance Wealth & Trust Partners LLC, can be reached at (813) 931-7258 or email [email protected]


By NITISH S. RELE - [email protected]

Have you opened a new store or restaurant in the last six months? Expanding or relocating? Has your business won an award or a mention in your local newspaper? We want to hear from you. Call Nitish S. Rele at (813) 758-1786 or e-mail us at [email protected]


The 99-seat eatery has been open for nine years. What's been attracting local residents to Little India at 8344 W. Oakland Park Blvd. in Sunrise? Rochelle Koff of Miami Herald has the answer. "Just-baked breads fragrant of onion and garlic," she notes in a recent review. "Robust chutneys and soothing yogurt. Velvety sauces and deep, spicy curries."

And the food? "Most dishes can be made with goat, chicken, lamb or shrimp, and there's a fish curry and spicier vindaloo," she writes.

For more information, call the restaurant at (954) 741-7570 or visit


St. Petersburg Times food critic Laura Reiley was all praise for the lunch buffet at the newly opened Pinellas Park's Taste of Punjab. "Chef/owner Rajinder Singh's palate is spicy and flavorful but balanced, with a good eye to contrasting colors and textures," she writes. "We've had a recent influx of Indian restaurants in the area, but certainly there's room for this newcomer, with its mostly familiar northern Indian dishes, offered in generous quantities at a fair price."

Lunch buffet at the eatery at 6540 Park Blvd. is $9.57. Taste of Punjab is open 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. For information, call (727) 545-4103.


And while we are talking about Pinellas Park, a lot of new residents in Pinellas (especially Clearwater/Largo areas) have been inquiring about grocery stores in their county. Well, a huge supporter of Khaas Baat for several years is Namaste in Clearwater owned by Hussainbhai. The British, Indian and Oriental (B.I.O.) groceries store is at 2475-H McMullen Booth Road. Their telephone number is (727) 669-3737. Let Hussainbhai know we suggested him to you.

Also, for folks in the vicinity of Tarpon Springs, Hudson and Holiday, there's a grocery store right off U.S. 19 in Holiday. Spice of India is at 3315 U.S. 19. For more information, call (727) 815-0831.

Vijaya and his wife Nagu Shankar.

Vijaya Shankar, previous owner of NS Foods in Tampa, died Feb. 28 in Bangalore. We fondly remember him and his wife, Nagu, who opened the restaurant/store at 5522 Hanley Road, Suite 105, more than 13 years ago. At that time, the Shankars took pride in the fact that theirs was the only store/restaurant serving fresh vegetarian South Indian food. And we took pride in eating their delicious food every time.

"Myself and Madhavi knew Vijaya Shankar for over 15 years," said Kotha Sekharam of Gurukulam of Tampa Bay. "He taught at Gurukulam of Tampa Bay for a long time. He was an honest and caring human being. Teaching was his passion. He had the ability to interact with any age group. He was the kind of person who was ready to help anybody, even a stranger, without expecting anything in return. We will greatly miss a wonderful friend in Tampa Bay."

We at Khaas Baat, including those numerous children whom Vijaya Shankar taught mathematics among other subjects to prepare for SAT, will miss him too.

NS Foods is still open, now run by Sushma Patel, a veteran cook who has catered for Indian families for more than 15 years.

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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