Indo-American News November 12, 2021

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Friday, November 12, 2021 | Vol. 40, No. 46

Indo American News

November 12, 2021



Published weekly from Houston, TX

Special Reports Community Briefs Local Politics South Asians in the News

2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, TX 77077 • 713.789.NEWS (6397) •


Diwali Dinner with Political & Hindu Leaders

Pragati USA and Ashirwad A Blessing Temple (Ashirwad) collaborated to host Diwali Dinner at India House Houston on October 29th, 2021. The goal of the event was to bring together major Hindu organizations in the Greater Houston area, and both Democratic and Republican elected officials of Harris and Fort Bend counties to celebrate the Diwali, the Festival of Lights.


Good guys. Bad guys. Maratha pride. Aaaaand action.



3 3 3 0 F M 1 4 6 3 | K a t y, T X 7 7 4 9 4 | 8 3 2 . 8 5 5 . 5 5 2 0 | p a l m r o y a l v i l l a . c o m

Indo-American News • Friday, november 12, 2021 •



November 12, 2021

Diwali Dinner with Elected Officials and Hindu Leaders of Houston

Houston: Pragati USA and Ashirwad A Blessing Temple (Ashirwad) collaborated to host Diwali Dinner at India House Houston on October 29th, 2021. The goal of the event was to bring together major Hindu organizations in the Greater Houston area, and both Democratic and Republican elected officials of Harris and Fort Bend counties to celebrate the Diwali, the Festival of Lights. The event received an overwhelming response from the community, with all available sponsorships sold days before the event. Over 275 attendees were present, with representatives from leading Hindu Organizations like the Ekal Vidyalaya, Gayatri Consciousness Center, Hindu Mahasabha, Hindus of Greater Houston (HGH), Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA (HSS), SEWA International, Indian History Awareness & Research (IHAR), ISKCON Houston, Jain Community, Shri Sita Ram Foundation USA, Texas Hindu Campsite, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Vadtal Dham Shree Swaminarayan Hindu Temple, Datta Yoga Center (DYC), Sri Ashtalakshmi Temple, Sri Meenakshi Temple Society, Sri Rama Jaya Niketan Temple. Leading elected officials and their representatives, from both parties, who attended the event are Honorable Judge Christian Becerra

- 434th District Court of Fort Bend County, Mr. Ken DeMerchant Commissioner Precinct 4, Mr. Robin Elackatt - Mayor of Missouri City, Mr. Eric Fagan - Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Delegate: Major Rudy Castaneda, Mr. KP George - Fort Bend County Judge, Ms. Cynthia M. Ginyard - Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chair, Honorable Juli Mathew - Judge Fort Bend County Court at Law No. 3, Mr. Ken Mathew - Mayor Pro Tem Stafford City (Council Member - Position #6), Mr. Brian M. Middleton - Fort Bend County District Attorney, Mr. Troy E. Nehls - US Congressman’s Delegate: Mr. Thomas Goodfellow, Ms. Kim K Ogg - Harris County District Attorney’s Delegate: Mr. Ruben Perez, Mrs. Anna Carpenter, Mr. Ron Reynolds - Texas State Representative, House District 27, Ms. Bridgette Smith-Lawson - Fort Bend County Attorney, Honorable Teana Watson - Judge Fort Bend County Court at Law No. 5, Mr. Ce-

cil Willis - Stafford City Mayor The event began with light appetizers while networking between organization members and elected officials for the first hour. The program started with welcome remarks from Chetan Dave (Pragati USA) followed by Lakshmi Pooja from a Hindu priest Acharya Hanuma of Sri Rama Jayaniketan Temple. The event also featured national anthems of the United States, sung by Sanjay Sivakumar, and India, sung by Priyanshi Parekh. Priyanshi also led the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States and Texas. Ashish Agarwal introduced Elected officials who participated in lighting traditional diyas to the Hindu deities. Ms.Geetha

Ravula (Ashirwad) spoke about Ashirwad’s mission is to promote oneness of GOD and serve the underprivileged. She emphasized the significance and deeper meaning of Diwali. Mr. Sanjay Patel, an author of 11 books and a former monk offered a brief explanation of Sanatana Dharma and Hinduism, uniting the religious and cultural aspects that the evening was meant to highlight to our Elected officials. Vikas Singh of IHAR spoke on Hinduism’s contribution over the years which transported the audience back to India’s ancient glory Chetan Davé gave an introduction of Pragati USA and its mission to all attendees and outlined its vision of bringing together all

the Houston Hindu Organizations. Pragati seeks to raise the awareness and participation of Houston’s Hindu community in civic and political spheres and. prepare the next generation of young Hindu leaders to run in local elections. The speech was well received by the audience and all Hindu organization leaders and attendees were in agreement that the collaborative efforts of Pragati USA and Ashirwad is uniting the Hindu community to increase its representation in mainstream civic life and local government. Esha Salian and Geetha Ravula, who did the honors of emceeing the event, recognized the Hindu organizations and sponsors attending the event.


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Houston: A concertgoer at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival was declared brain-dead after suffering injuries during the crowd surge that killed eight people, according to reports. Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old student at Texas A&M University, attended the festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, with her sister and cousin before getting separated in the crowd. “Once one person fell, people started toppling like dominos. It was like a sinkhole. People were falling on top of each other,” Bharti’s cousin Mohit Bellani told ABC13. “There were like layers of bodies on the ground, like two people thick. We were fighting to come up to the top and breathe to stay alive.” After getting out of the stampede, both Bellani and Bharti’s sister, Namrata Shahani, lost their cellphones and couldn’t find Bharti. Bharti Shahani, a student at Texas A&M university, was declared brain dead after she sustained injuries at the Astroworld Festival on Nov. 5, 2021.. “Once we let go of her hand, the next time we saw her, we were in the ER,” Namrata told ABC13. Bharti’s sister set up a GoFundMe page for donations to cover the family’s mounting expenses. “Bharti is the light of our lives and we are all praying for her full and speedy recovery,” Namrata wrote.

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Willy, Nanayakkara and Associates remains in full operation during this global health event. Attorneys, legal assistants and support staff will be available via phone and / or video conferencing between 8:30 AM and 5:30 PM CST. Thursday free consultations can also be scheduled by phone and video. Please contact us at (281)265-2522 or visit our website at www.grwpc. com for more information.

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November 12, 2021

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November 12, 2021

Southwest National Bank 24th Anniversary

Houston: Southwestern National Bank is proud to be marking its 24th anniversary on November 3, 2021. CEO Simmons said 2021 is a good year to remember because we helped over 1,000 business owners to apply for assistance and save their businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. Our employees worked very hard to ensure our customers received the funds they needed to fund their payrolls and keep their workers safe. We are grateful that our customers continually show their confidence in us. For that confidence, we will continue to do all we can to earn it. We want to extend a special thank you to our dedicated employees who have operated our bank with a high level of quality and consistency in mind. CEO Simmons added that this and next year continues to be challenging for us as the global pandemic affected activities worldwide, among

which the supply chain disruptions and shortage of the labor force are significant. Despite the uncertainties ahead of us, those efforts and continued dedication from our employees give us all the reasons to be excited about our future and continue to serve our customers. We are also proud and honored that Director-General Mr. Rob-

ert Lo from the Taipei Economic and Culture Office of Houston, General Manager Wen-Ching Wang from the Taiwan Cooperative Bank, General Manager Ben Wu from Fist Commercial Bank, and the Directors of Southwestern National Bank joined the management team and employees to celebrate this important milestone. (Member FDIC)

IndoAmerican News Founder: Dr. K.L. Sindwani Publisher: Jawahar Malhotra Editor: Pramod Kulkarni Correspondent: Sanchali Basu ®All rights reserved. No material herein or portions thereof may be published without the written consent of the publisher. Deadline for advertising and articles is 4 pm on Monday of each week. Please include self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of all unsolicited material. Published at 2470 Dairy Ashford, Houston, Texas 77077. Tel:713-789-6397, email:, website:


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November 12, 2021

Judge Sandill Celebrates Diwali for the Bench

Houston: Harris County Judge Harris County 127th District Civil Court Ravi Sandill held an informal luncheon for members of the Bar at Raja Sweets on Hillcroft to celebrate Diwali last Friday, November 5. Nearly 30 people attended the luncheon

serving themselves with some tasty vegetarian Punjabi food. The event was co-organized by attorney Manpreet Kaur Singh, shown on second from right in the picture with Judge Sandill.

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November 12, 2021

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November 12, 2021

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November 12, 2021

New Billboards Celebrating Hinduism on Houston Freeways during October

Houston: New billboards celebrating Hinduism have popped up on major highways of Houston since mid-October. The occasion was to coincide with the Hindu Heritage Month in October marked by Hindu festivals and Diwali, the festival of lights, this week. The billboards were the brainchild of two Hindu women, Dr. Kusum Vyas of Living Planet Foundation and Dr. Veena Ambardar, Senior Engineering Specialist/ Scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (retired) who conceived and executed the project with the help of a team of volunteers and donors. Here is the story behind the billboards in the words of Vyas and Ambardar: Both Dr. Vyas and Dr. Ambardar, were so agog with the sentiments, emotions and excitement after “Hindu Heritage Month” concept was sweeping across the whole of America during October, the ladies wanted to do “Elan” at a much higher level of Hinduism at OM level so that it reverberates with the whole universe. “From the onset, we were firm in or conviction that the billboards were not about any individuals or organization. This life is not about us. It is not even about other people. There is a higher calling. A higher focus,” said Dr. Vyas. “For us, the focus was to share positive vibes and energy of Sanatan Dharma - the foundation

of Hinduism, with the world around us.” “OM is perpetually green till eternity and stands tall, way after the Hindu Heritage Month is over in October,” said Dr. Ambardar. “OM can produce powerful and positive vibrations which allows you to feel the whole universe and reverberates in the universe till the end of time. It is way above any recognition given by America or world to Hinduism- it goes far above the atmospheric levels of Earth into the deepest orbit of the universe.” “We are passionate about Hinduism and believe, when projected properly, Hinduism with its eternal message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam - The World is a Family - can unite humanity, prevent wars and alleviate suffering in the world,” said Dr. Ambardar. “The project was made possible by donations from supporters and personal funds. We are very thankful to all those who supported us as none of our efforts would be possible without their help.” Several Billboard companies were interviewed, Clear Channel, a leading billboard company stood

out and soon was confirmed for the job. The duo selected a prime spot with over 850,000 weekly impressions on I-45, known to Houston residents as the Gulf Freeway. It connects downtown Houston, NASA and Galveston over the Galveston Causeway to the Gulf of Mexico. During the negotiations, Clear Channel offered to install a second billboard at a rate the two ladies could not refuse. Hence, another plum spot at I-69 Southwest Freeway with over 800,000 impressions was quickly confirmed for the second billboard to be installed on October 27th. Though the initial design concept of OM was created for the I-45 South by Dr. Vyas, after few iterations, it was finalized with addition of the words “Celebrate Hinduism” and “Pure Unconditional Love for All Living Creatures,” a quotation from Rig Veda.

“ O u r main aim was to create a billboard that was forwardthinking and engaging, we designed a billboard that is visually interconnected to the ethos of Hinduism and close proximity of Houston, also known as Space City, to NASA and Space Exploration, we wanted to rise to the level of OM so that it reverberates with the concept of space and the universe,” said Dr. Kusum Vyas, “Our design focuses on making the billboard feel warm and emanate the true essence of the sacred OM by maximizing daylight, augmented with an atypical use of appropriate colors, bringing warmth and peaceful vibrations to everyone’s experience, from drivers on the freeway to passengers in private vehicles. “It is a turning point in the ethnic cultural history of America where a tiny segment of society’s 4-6 million Hindus/Indian-Americans are bringing via their culture and religion of peace, unity and equality: Hinduism to America within ways, never before seen on US soil,” said Dr. Ambardar.

Being so close to the annual festival of Diwali, for the second billboard, Dr. Vyas focused on illuminating the entire world, from a billboard at three hundred feet high, conveying to Americans the essence of one of the richest festivals of Eastern Hemisphere: Diwali - the Festival of Lights. After adding the words, Celebrate Hinduism, Earth’s Oldest Surviving Civilization” this billboard featuring multiple “Diyas – Earthen Lamps” was perfected and brought to fruition on October 27th. “The world-wide response to the billboards has been astonishing with several callers inquiring how such billboards could be replicated in their cities,” said Dr. Vyas. Hindus of Greater Houston past Presiden Giirish Naik said, I am delighted to see all the positive vibrations these billboards have created not only in Houston but across the nation and beyond. The two billboards certainly bring to light the significance of Hinduism and the beauty of Diwali.” “A new era arrived on October 11th, when Houstonians woke up to a sight never before seen in the city. The first-ever billboards reverberating positive vibes about spiritual Hinduism across Greater Houston has created an awe-inspiring ambience for the fourth most populous city in the nation and home to NASA, “ said Dr. Kusum Vyas. “That begs the question. Are these the first-ever Hinduism billboards in North America?”


Indo-American News • Friday, november 12, 2021 •


November 12, 2021

Fund-raiser to Re-elect FB Judge KP George Have you planned for your future?

People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan

Jesal Patel ARPC, CLTC, LUTCF A fundraiser for the re-election campaign of Ft. Bend County Commissioner’s Court Judge K.P. George was held this past Sunday at the Anjali School for Performing Arts in Sugar Land. About 60 people attended the event which was organized by (from left) Rufi Natrajan, Padma Srinivasan and Sofia Sheikh, shown here with Judge George.

Richmond: The bitter, partisan fight over redistricting has come to Fort Bend County. After weeks of the debate, the Fort Bend County commissioners court late last week voted to approve a new precinct map along party lines, with County Judge KP George and Democratic commissioners Grady Prestage and Ken DeMerchant voting in favor, with Republican commissioners Vincent Morales and Andy Meyers opposed. “We listened to the concerns of the pub-

lic over these past several weeks and the desire for more equitable representation,” George said. “The map I presented best represents the county and is reflective of the growth and changes in our community. This is historic, we set out to achieve proportional, fair and equitable for all Fort Bend County residents. The approved map is the consensus of all voices and brings everyone together.” In the days since Friday’s vote, however, the reaction has been far from unanimously positive. -- Matt DeGrood, Fort Bend Star

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Indo-American News • Friday, november 12, 2021 •



November 12, 2021

Grand 25th Annual Health Fair & Diwali Bazaar at Meenakshi Temple By Dr. Al Algappan

Pearland: On Oct 30th, Saturday the grand 25th annual Health fair & Diwali bazaar was celebrated at Sri Meenakshi temple with lots of enthusiasm when well over 2,500 devotees visited to get the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi on this gorgeous breezy and sunny day with clear skies. The morning started with the ribbon cutting ceremony by a group of local officials of the traditional annual health fair and this year again was organized by Dr. Vaduganathan, when they did basic health screening lab works and EKGs if needed to around sixty odd persons with a help of few physician volunteers, support staff from Memorial South East & Cornerstone Hospital, student volunteers from Seva Clinic & Turner High School, Pearland. Dr. Ramachandra, a local Pediatrician with the help of their office staff offered Covid vaccinations to over fifty people on that day. The highlight of the evening was the maiden voyage of the 19 feet Silver Ratham (Chariot) with Lakshmi Devi under Chithirai Veedhi Mandapam which is still in construction. The sight of Silver Ratham with fully adorned Lakshmi Devi and tens of devotees of all ages pulling the Ratham, hundreds of devotees chanting and following the Ratham along the Ratha Veedhi was absolutely stunning. Lakshmi Devi’s procession

on this auspicious day along the still under construction Chithirai Veedhi Mandapam showers the much-needed blessings for a successful completion and inauguration in the coming months. This Chithirai Veedhi Mandapam is a 12,000 sq.ft. open mandapam structure first of its kind outside India will become a very unique congregation space to even further enhance devotee experience at the Sri Meenakshi Temple premises. A brief video of the procession is available at https://youtu. be/27hYbLpR60c There was a steady stream of visitors throughout the day but

during the time Lakshmi puja in the evening the temple saw the biggest number of devotees when every parking spot arranged within the temple premises was taken up, when the shuttle bus service had to be used for off site parking at the nearby Pearland High school. The parking committee led by Muthuraman & Senthil Devaraj did an amazing job in the parking arrangements without any glitches. The glittering silver coverings and the fresh flower garlands adorned to all the deities added further glory to the devotee’s viewing pleasure. As they excited the temple every devotee was greeted by

one of the temple administrators or board members with a sweet prasad which further brought the Diwali mood and excitement to the visitors. The devotees then had plenty to choose to satisfy their taste buds from the food booths set up by the temple kitchen and one outside food vendor, Godavari restaurant from a variety of dosas, vegetable fried rice, lemon rice, several chat items and everyone’s favorite was the mango lassi and the mouthwatering faluda with strawberry ice cream. The devotees enjoyed their favorite choice of meals on the picnic tables arranged out-

Indo-American News • Friday, november 12, 2021 •

doors in the newly built Balamurugan sports park near the Visitor center. Then there was more to the bazaar activities inside the youth center where several vendor booths were set up ranging from saree boutiques, fashion jewelry shops, arts and crafts stalls for the shoppers to open up their wallets and spend to their heart’s content. Though the Youth center was not to the usual full capacity, there were more than enough stalls to get the holiday excitement going even during this ever-dragging pandemic. The evening ended with the traditional Diwali fireworks display arranged by the temple which was a feast to the eyes of both the young and the wise on this year’s Diwali celebration day at Houston’s one of the must-see places, Sri Meenakshi temple. This year’s added new attraction at our temple is the interactive Hindu Heritage Museum set up at the first floor of the marriage hall, Kalyana Mandapam which you don’t want to miss on your next visit to the temple. This event was well coordinated by the Joint treasurer of MTS, Dr. Al Alagappan along with the help of every board member and a whole bunch of dedicated temple volunteers and supported by Chairman Dhani Kannan, Secretary Partha Krishnaswamy and Treasurer Bhargavi Golla. A brief video of the Diwali Bazaar is available at

SUDOKU/MOVIE REVIEW Place a number in the empty boxes in such a way that each row across, each column down and each 9-box square contains all of the numbers from one to nine.

November 12, 2021

‘Sooryavanshi’: Much Emotion & Action

Send us the correct answer before November 17. 2021 Email us at Please send us your solved Sudoku for your name to be published.

Solution Next Week By Shubhra Gupta

Last Week’s Solution

Last Week’s Winners

Sanchali Basu, Krishna R. Vuddagiri, Ramana Vadrevu, Mike Pajwani


Ten minutes into Sooryavanshi, we know we are back in Rohit Shetty’s cop universe. RDX! Cars being blown up! And our Hero Ki Entry as Veer Sooryvanshi (Akshay Kumar), the best of Mumbai police, slo mo-ing into the frame, crisp khakis and snappy Raybans to the fore, gearing up to fight the Bad Guys aka Lashkar aka Muslim Terrorists. Good guys. Bad guys. Maratha pride. Aaaaand action. There really is no need for anything else in Planet Shetty, but given that the dewlaps under Sooryavanshi’s chin are clearly visible, a semblance of a plot is handed out as a prop: 1000 kgs of deadly explosives were brought into India in 1993 and only 400 kgs were used in the Mumbai blasts, so where is the remaining? Our brave cop is also given a beauteous wife (Katrina Kaif), a child, and a songand-dance-in-the-rain sequence, just to pad up the two-and-a-half hours of run time. The rest is given over to Terrorist Chief (Jackie Shroff) master-minding a repeat of the 1993 blasts, and a sleeper cell which is dog whistled into action. ‘Khabardaar, Mumbai phir se khatre mein hain!’ This much-awaited Rohit Shetty actioner, meant to release in March 2020, has ridden out two lockdowns through the pandemic, and is out in theatres this week. But is this your blockbuster Diwali gift from Bollywood? Much has changed, not least of which is our having turned our gadgets into a movie hall. Net net, is ‘Sooryavanshi’ worth getting into the movie halls for? I’m conflicted, good people, and here’s why: first off, there’s a bit too much clunky emotion shoved in between the action (terrorists also have families; tears are spilled when offspring are offed; mothers’ graves are to be visited, because after all, mothers are mothers, no?). And then, which is even more of a bummer, there’s too much Akshay, not enough Ajay and Ranveer. All those brimming eyes, and sentimental lines about ‘santaan’ and ‘shaheedi’. Oh please. A Rohit Shetty flick is meant to deliver

non-stop rat-a-tat, risible dialogue, and our heroes being invincible as the bad guys go flying in the air. We not only get rocky marital relationships and weepy lectures on family values, but also a film taking pains to dilute its othering (those bad bad Muslim jihadis) by giving us good Musalmaans who are patriots. We love our Kalams, see, not those murderous Kasabs. Is the director being expedient?

Or is he valiantly flying a flag for Bollywood, which with its lip service to a crumbling syncretic India, is perhaps the only place left where we can hear ‘Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai’ in one sentence. Even if it is used as a ‘jumla’, good people, I sat up, took note, and cheered. What will new India, and new Indians do, though, when this goes out and is heard, out loud and proud? Meanwhile, Simmba (Ranveer Singh), when he does bother to show up, all slicked hair and spiffy moustache, gets to call Sooryavanshi and Singham (Ajay Devgan, who also makes a late entry) ‘puraana chawal’, which prompts the latter to call Simmba a ‘bachcha’. We crack a smile. This is what we are there for. Finally, finally, with the trio all going bang-bang, the movie gives us what it promises, three for the price of one. -- IE

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Indo-American News • Friday, november 12, 2021 •

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November 12, 2021

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