Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Florida News


By NITISH S. RELE, [email protected]

Feel the fragrance of India Nov. 12 as you stroll through 120 booths offering food, clothes, jewelry, film DVDs and CDs, arts and crafts, photo studio and home décor at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

“More than 12,000 people are expected to attend the 24th annual India Festival in this bigger, better venue with new thoughts and a new generation, said Chairman Dinesh Gandhi.

Among the highlights of the event, organized by the Gujarati Samaj of Tampa Bay, are a Bollywood (fusion) dance and Voice of Florida (singing) competition; folk, garba, raas, bhangra competition; and a fashion show. Padmashri and playback singer Kavita Krishnamurty will open the ceremony at about 11:30 a.m. with the national anthem and a few songs, and then return between 4 and 5 p.m. to present awards before performing a Bollywood-style concert from 9:30 onward.

Also, the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory will present a surprise one-hour program. “With 72 entries, there will be close to 1,000 participants, all of whom will receive a trophy,” said Gandhi. “Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has proclaimed Nov. 12 as India Festival Day.”

A health forum/awareness program is also on the daylong itinerary. Florida Blood Bank will have a bus for blood donations. “We want everyone to come and enjoy the fragrance of India and at the same time meet and greet old and new friends,” said Gandhi. “This way, our Indian culture and heritage will continue to flourish.”

Indian-American communities in such far places as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Ocala among others will be participating in dozens of competitions. And several local dignitaries and city/county officials will be gracing the celebrations.

The India Festival will begin from 11 a.m. at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N., Tampa. Tickets are $8 for adults; $5 for children 10 and younger. For information, call Dinesh Gandhi at (727) 858-4123, Ashok Modh at (813) 935-3439, e-mail [email protected] or visit

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Muthamizh Sangam of Central Florida CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVERSARY NOV. 26


The Tamil community in Central Florida has flourished and grown over the years and on Nov. 26 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its organization – the Muthamizh Sangam of Central Florida (MSCF). The group was formed in 1986 to promote Tamil culture, help their members adjust to life in the United States and be supportive of social and charitable causes. Continuing and building upon a long tradition of cultural events, MSCF will hold a daylong program of dance, music and quiz competitions from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Lyman High School, 865 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood. Lunch and dinner will be provided for the family.

The highlight is Agni, a well-known musical group that will present dance performances and music and songs in several Indian languages as well as English. MSCF’s Cultural and Youth Committees, which have been practicing for months, will also take to the stage.

For online registration, visit The fee of $40 for MSCF members and $50 for non-members includes all-day event admissions and food for a family of two adults and two children. A special event souvenir of articles, art and community information will be published. For more information, call Babu Balasundaram at (407) 334-8006.


Store and hotel/motel owners, physicians, pharmacists and people from other professions will gather Saturday, Nov. 19, at India Cultural Center (5511 Lynn Road) in Tampa for the seventh annual convention of the Asian American Convenience Store Owners Association (AACSA).

AACSA is the apex body of the Asian American convenience store owners in the United States, according to AACSA Founding President Satya Shaw. Convenience store owners and operators from all across the United States will be attending the mega event to discuss issues related to their business and welfare.

The 11 a.m. daytime program features booths, exhibits, vendors, educational sessions, networking, plus lunch. Around noon, Saumya Tandon, host and celebrity guest will inaugurate the convention with ribbon cutting at noon. Door prizes will be awarded every hour from noon to 6 p.m. Various vendors will offer special convention day discounts.

Some of the agenda items include: Royal Buying Group Inc., a national merchandising and marketing company will give a presentation to show store owners how to get more rebates on their purchases. Also, attorney Bela Patel will speak about reducing property taxes, using mediation to solve legal problems and how to maximize benefits under eminent domain. Representatives of Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will offer advice on how to deter robberies. The evening program will feature Bollywood-style entertainment, plus dinner and dancing.

Registration is free for the first 500 store owners (daytime program attendance is required to receive free pass for evening). For others, it is $100 for the convention, including lunch, educational sessions, dinner and entertainment. Register online at

For more information, call (813) 908-1602, (813) 842-0345 or e-mail [email protected]. Also, visit


Rasajhari and Motherscry Inc. will present “Buddha: Universal Ambassador of Peace,” an English musical play, Nov. 6 in Jacksonville. Performance will be by Kalaivani Dance & Music Academy, Georgia.

“This is the first fundraiser for, a non-profit organization for support of families with mentally and developmentally challenged loved ones,” said Dr. Uma Eyyunni, president of Mothers Cry. “We hope to create awareness in the community to be able to offer the needed support, early diagnosis and emotional help to deal with these challenges. To date, we have conducted three educational seminars and hope to invite many more experts in the field.”

The 3 to 5 p.m. play will be at Robinson Theater, University of North Florida. Tickets are $20 per person. For information, call Dr. Uma Eyyunni at (904) 810-7626, Srinivas Kishore at (850) 321-4705 or e-mail [email protected] or visit


EKALEkal Vidyalaya, South Florida chapter, will present Jagruthi (Awakening), a colorful dance and music show, Dec. 3 in Hollywood.

The 6:30 to 10 p.m. event at Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center will raise money for the Ekal Vidyalaya foundation. A charitable trust, Ekal Vidyalaya 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 tribal India.

Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center is at 1770 Monroe St. (U.S. 1 and Monroe Street). Adult tickets, which include dinner, are $25 in advance or $30 at door; children 11 years of age and younger are $10; above 12 years of age are $20.

To purchase tickets online, visit, call (305) 273-0009 or email



Central Florida folks, you have it lucky! Amid you all is a professor who comes from a long lineage of musicians teaching Indian Indian classical vocal arts, tabla, kathak and of course, santoor. Nandkishor Muley or Nandu to friends and family is an old acquaintance of Khaas Baat. We met the distinguished and renowned performer on the campus at University of Central Florida (Burnett Honors College), where he has been teaching for the last eight years.

“I have averaged about 15 to 20 students for the fall course ‘Indian Music and Dance,’ ” says Berlin-based Muley. Next spring, he will introduce a new course “Indian Art Heritage” with Vilas Tonape, professor of art at Polk State College in Winter Haven. “The unique course will deal with interrelations between art and painting and music – how music can visualize art with painting,” he says. In summer, Muley teaches a course integrating yoga, music and dance at UCF.

The santoor maestro also has been teaching “Introduction to Indian Music” at Stetson University in DeLand for 13 years. “I average about 10 students a semester,” he says. “It’s challenging to teach students who are not exposed to Indian culture. In the beginning, they may find it tough but I get them into it. Teaching is a skill. You have to understand what American students want to get out of an Indian music class and then address their level of competency.”

And for the last three years, Muley has been offering vocal and tabla lessons at Chinmaya Mission, 1221 Florida Road, Casselberry on weekends: Saturday mornings are for advance students and Sundays are for beginners. “There should be more of our community awareness and support to promote our Indian music and traditions,” he feels.

Of course, he still plays santoor (every morning practice). “In classical music, if you know all the ragas (vocal) and can play tabla (taal), then you know the basic technique.

Before heading off to India in December for a dance workshop with a student’s group from Germany, Muley will play tabla for two concerts with sitar player Rupinder Kaur in Winter Springs and Gainesville.

The Nov. 5 concert will be at 7:15 p.m. at Red Sun Yoga, 5965 Red Bug Road, Winter Springs. Tickets are $20. For information, call Mario Teclea at (321) 202-0824.

The Nov. 6 Gainesville concert will be at India Cultural and Education Center, 1115 S.W. 13th St., at 3 p.m. ICEC members are $20; non-members $25; students are free with ID. For information, call Prabhakar Keskar at (352) 338-1591.

Muley, who holds a bachelor’s and master’s in Indian music and dance, received specialized training in santoor from Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, India’s greatest master of the santoor. He also has received several honors, including the German equivalent of a Grammy Award, “Diva Music Award” from the Indian music industry in Bombay, and “Excellent Art & Cultural Educator” award from United Arts of Florida.

Nandkishor Muley can be reached at [email protected] or visit

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