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Atlanta’s Premier South Asian Newspaper July 2017


Free Copy


Atlanta’s Premier South Asian Newspaper July 2017

11th Anniversary Issue

Free Copy

BAPS Mandir In Atlanta Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Atlanta, GA: His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the current spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, joined devotees and wellwishers in celebrating the ten-year anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, GA on July 1, 2017. The Mandir was inaugurated by His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2007 and has helped enrich the local community through the development of family and youth programs, community outreach, and spiritual assemblies. A true labor of love, the Mandir offers weekly services and year-round programs organized by volunteers and Swamis within the BAPS community. As a central place of Hindu worship, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir opened to the community on August 26, 2007 and was made possible by the spiritual support, guidance, and inspiration of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the fifth spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Today, Mahant Swami Maharaj carries forward this work and legacy as the current spiritual successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Through his leadership and guidance, Mahant Swami Maharaj invites people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds to visit and explore the mandir, its architecture, and its Hindu teachings. Heer Patel from Memphis, Tennessee was relatively new to the BAPS community during the inaugural ceremonies in 2007 and recalled the event with great enthusiasm, “[Pramukh Swami] was truly someone special that was able to attract thousands of people from different backgrounds and

bring them together for one purpose. I was not never really interested in spirituality, but after the memorable interactions with Pramukh Swami Maharaj when he inaugurated the temple in 2007, I became more and more connected with the temple.” Patel was a volunteer at the 10 year celebrations. “It has been such an amazing experience to have just as amazing interactions with Mahant Swami Maharaj as we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the mandir”. Since Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s visit, participation within the local community and beyond has grown, and hundreds of individuals regularly attend celebrations of Hindu festivals throughout the year. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta is the first of its kind in the region, and community volunteers welcomed the ten-year anniversary celebrations in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj with the same zeal and excitement they experienced back in 2007. The anniversary celebrations were primarily created and led by the youth of BAPS who have been preparing for the arrival of Mahant Swami Maharaj for several months. Yash Soni from Parkland, FL says, “By participating in various performances during the 10th anniversary celebration, I have felt a deep connection with my guru and developed a greater understanding of samp (unity) and teamwork. These are two values that he has stressed to youths of my age.” Over the past ten years, the mandir has wel-

comed people from all walks of life, leaving a lasting impression in their lives. Community members join in weekly events to practice spirituality and personal development while fostering a sense of unity and teamwork. Music, language, and spiritual enrichment classes actively instill Hindu values and culture in future generations of young people who will grow to lead in their communities. Regular programs and events at the mandir provide an opportunity for community members to explore and practice Hindu traditions and faith. The mandir is also the site of various charitable initiatives that include health fairs, blood drives, and community walkathons for people of all ages – merging the spirit of service with volunteerism. The BAPS Mandir in Atlanta unites families in spirituality, setting the tone for the anniversary events. Highlights from the program included video footage of the inaugural ceremonies and colorful cultural dances. Guests relived the past ten years of the mandir’s history, the development of youth activities, and the installation of the sacred image of Nilkanth Varni. Devotees shared stories of reaching milestones in their spirituality, growing closer to one another, and practicing peaceful living – all inspired and guided by the role of mandir in their lives. The event was attended by several community and government officials who recalled fond

moments with Pramukh Swami Maharaj and shared heartfelt reflections on their first meeting with Mahant Swami Maharaj during his current travels. The mayor of Lilburn, Mayor Johnny Crist, presented Mahant Swami Maharaj with a key to the city while saying, “Most cities in the state of Georgia want to be a place where you live, work, and play. But may I offer another alternative, or add to it, and that is we need to be a city where that is a place to live, to work, to play, and to pray.” Mayor Crist also brought a proclamation designating July 1, 2017 as Mahant Swami Maharaj Day in the city of Lilburn. In addition to Lilburn there are a total of six cities recognizing July 1, 2017 as Mahant Swami Maharaj Day including Matthews, NC; Boynton Beach, FL; Montgomery, AL; Knox County, TN; and Anderson, SC. Georgia’s Secretary of State, Mr. Brian Kemp, conferred an Honorary Citizenship of Georgia to His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj. Consul General Nagesh Singh was also in attendance and conveyed a hearty welcome on behalf of the Government of India. The celebrations concluded with blessings from Mahant Swami Maharaj who encouraged all to uphold unity, maintain faith, and further develop one’s spirituality in strengthening the mandir as a community place of worship. Follow #BAPSATL10 and #MahantSwami on social media for more details regarding anniversary celebrations and His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s North America visit.


........City News ........

July 2017

Consulate Celebrates Third International Day of Yoga P.O Box 191124 Atlanta GA 31119 Tel: 404-235-4998 Email: Publisher NRIPulse Media Inc.


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BY MAHADEV DESAI Photos by ByteGraph Creations and SFA Productions Atlanta, GA: On a cool breezy Sunday morning, June 25, 2017, the Consulate General of India in Atlanta in collaboration with the City of Sandy Springs and 50 plus community organizations celebrated the 3rd International Day of Yoga 2017 (IDY 2017) at the Heritage Park, Sandy Springs, from 7.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. Consul D.V. Singh, (Head of Chancery),CGI, Atlanta, Mayor Rusty Paul of Sandy Springs City Council, Gurudev Amrit Desai of AmritYoga and Shri Saumitra Gokhale, Global Coordinator, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, USA, graced and inaugurated the event, which was attended by over 700 yoga practitioners from all walks of life. The event was inaugurated by the traditional lighting of the diya (lamp) by Consul Singh, with Mayor Paul and Yogi Desai. Consul Singh warmly welcomed all and in his brief remarks highlighted the importance of yoga and acceptability of yoga across the globe. Yoga creates an environment for universal peace, brotherhood, harmony and well-being, he said. Mayor Paul also addressed the participants: “It is a privilege to welcome Yoga Day participants to Sandy Springs for a third year. Our city is home to a culturally diverse collection of people, many of whom we see gathered here at Heritage. I want to thank the Indian Consulate for their hospitality in bringing such a welcoming event to our community,” he said. There has been a worldwide upsurge of interest in yoga and meditation. Around 300 million people are practicing yoga asanas; pranayama, meditation etc. worldwide including one hundred million in India. The United Nations General Assembly has declared June 21 as the International Day of Yoga, following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to UN General Assembly on September 27, 2014 wherein he stated: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. “ The

International Day of Yoga is celebrated annually the world over by India Consulates in collaboration with other Organizations. The enthusiastic and cheerful at-

tendees rolled out their yoga mats and after invocation, joined in performing the Common Yoga Protocol followed at the IDY. Led by a few seasoned yoga volunteers, they did warm up practices, standing & sitting asanas (postures); Sitting, Prone, Supine asanas (postures); Kapala Bhati & Pranayama (Breath altering practices); Dhyana (Meditation) and Sankalpa (Commitment to the truth).This was followed with Yoga Namaskar; Hatha Yoga; Surya Namaskar; guided meditation and songs and dances for peace. Students of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti Dance and Music Academy presented a scintillating kathak fusion item, choreographed by assistant director

Samta Savla, which signified the strength and importance of the sun to yoga and dance. The program concluded with the closing invocation. The event was supported by sponsors and voluntary contributions by various business and professional entities including Kroger, Austell International Farmers Market, Suvidha and SIMSAM LLC. The following organizations put their booths Sewa, HSS, Amrit Yoga, Sahaj Yoga, Isha Yoga, Art of Living, Heartfulness Meditation and Raksha along with lot of individuals. The event gave a big opportunity for sponsors and organizers to share their offerings with the yoga enthusiasts. More than 100 volunteers put enormous efforts to make this program a grand success. Very effective use of social media was made to publicize the IDY and also to exhort the community to attend it. The India Consulate, Atlanta and Sudhir Agarwal, Rajan Vedak, Ajay Houde, Rajeev Menon and Jaideep, to mention a few, did a commendable job in ensuring a flawless and memorable celebration of the 3rd IDY.

Carnatic Vidyalaya Celebrates Annual Day Atlanta, GA: Carnatic Vidyalaya, a South Indian classical music school for children celebrated its second annual day program on Saturday May 13, 2017 at Milton Center, Alpharetta. The program included participation from all the students of the school, in many different group and solo events. The events included popular compositions of Shri Thyagarajar, Annamacharya, Swathi Thirunal, Papanasam Sivan, Purandaradasar, Tulasidas and Muthuswamy Dikshithar in various languages viz., Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and Awadhi. The teacher and a few senior students performed Bavayami Rghuramam, the entire story of

Ramayana. Other senior students performed Varnams and Kritis as well as Hanuman Chalisa. Younger participants performed Geethams and some of them, as young as only three, went on to perform shlokams and small songs. It was wonderful to see all the kids perform with remarkable group co-ordination, along with a perfect sense of rhythm (talam) and tune (ragam) in alignment with the scale (shruthi). Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Carnatic Vidyalaya

strives to keep cultural ties intact among the young children living in the northern part of Atlanta. Children learning shlokams and Carnatic music at an early age are able to connect with Indian tradition and culture much more easily. Viji Murali, founder and teacher at the school emphasizes the importance of nurturing our culture. As a token of appreciation and encouragement, each student was awarded a trophy by Murali.

........City News ........


July 2017

Hindu Temple Of Atlanta’s Historic, Silver Jubilee Celebrations BY MAHADEV DESAI Photos by Dr. B.K. Mohan Atlanta, GA: Despite unsettled weather, thousands of devotees from all over the Southeast thronged to the Hindu Temple of Atlanta (HTA) in Riverdale, Georgia to attend and seek blessings at the historic, once-in-a-lifetime, spiritually suffused Rajatotsava Mahotsavam (silver jubilee) for Lord Venkateswara, Sri Padmavathi, Sri Bhudevi Sahitha and Sri Durga Devi Prathishtapana over 11 days, from May 19 to 29, 2017. During the celebrations, Vishwa Shanti Venkateshwara Ashtakshari Mahamantra Yagam & Nava Chandi Yagam were performed to promote universal peace, and happiness, and Ishti Homams for peace and welfare of all devotees, and supporters of the temple. Revered scholar priest Sri Varadaraja Bhattar Garu, together with 10 other well-versed priests, all from India, and six priests from the Hindu Temple, including Chief Priest Sri Gopal Bhattar, Chief priest of Siva Temple Sri Srinivas Sarma, Sri Pavankumar, and the priests from Houston, Milwaukee,amd Phoenix meticulously conducted the elaborate yagnams and related daily rituals. The celebrations began with anugna from Lord Balaji and Mahasankalpam.On the following days, various Ishti homams—LakshmiNarayana homam, Vaibhava homam, Hayagreeva homam, Vainateya homam, Dhanvantari homam, Manyu Sukta Homam for Navagraha Dosha Nivarana (to remove negative effects), Sudarshana homam were performed, concluding with Maha Purnahuthi with Chakrasnanam, Pushpa yagam and Maha sayanotsavam. This year, from February 8 to May 20, the Temple also performed Akhanda Vishnu Nama Parayanam and homam. Daily from 19th to 27th May; devotees participated in Chandi Parayanam with Lalitha Trishathi sthotra and Lalitha Sahasranam Kumkum Pooja. Brahmotsavam with all vahansevas to Lord Venkateswara was performed from May 24 to 28. Perhaps the most engaging among the various homams and poojas was Ekottara Sahasra (1001) kalasha abhishekham, Sri Chandi Homam on 28th May, and the ever popular Maha Satyanarayana Pooja. Daily Sri Venkateswara Mulamantra Homam and

Temple, showering flower petals. H . H . S r i Siddheswarananda Bharati Swami from Courtallam India, graced the celebrations with his august presence conferred his blessings to all and gave spiritual discourses on Sanathan Dharma and acharas from May 26 to May 29. Kitchen staff, under the supervi-

HTA President Kusuma Kotte with Sri Baskar Kotte holding the silver crown for Sri Venkateswara. Ashtakshari Homam were performed in the morning and evening. The priests carried the kalasas with coconuts on top, followed by Sri Venkateswara carried in a palanquin covered with an ornate umbrella, to the ringing of bells, thavil and nadaswaram. The enthusiastic, and cheerful devotees joined in the circumambulation round the

sion of Food Committee Chairperson, Padma Koganti lovingly prepared varied South Indian delicacies and Mahaprasadam for the attendees. On the final day, in an elegant ceremony, the priests were recognized and felicitated by the HTA for their commendable services. HTA president Kusuma Kotte effusively

commented, “To hold an event at HTA as elaborate as the Balaji and Durga Rajathosavam celebrations, we would generally require over one year of planning. With the blessings of Sri Venkateswara Swami, however, we accomplished our goal with only 4 months for preparation and fundraising. We started Sahasranama Parayana in February, and subsequently we began outreach programs with Srinivasa Kalyanam and Durga Pooja. We had one event in Marietta as well as two events in Cumming and Suwanee. Over the next several weeks, we held an additional over 15 successful outreach programs in individual homes. We made this happen, with the help of the HTA pooja committee, executive committee members, and especially very dedicated, disciplined and indefatigable volunteers. Apart from the HTA priests and the 10 priests from India, 20 volunteer priests performed the rituals during the event. The actual celebrations started May 19th and ended on May 29th. On the concluding day, it was heartening to watch the priests graciously offering a silver crown to Lord Venkateswara on the 29th after Sahasra Kalasha Abishekam.” “I would like to personally thank all the priests, H.H.Sri Sidheswarananda Bharathi Swami, the HTA executive committee, volunteers, devotees, and God for making these celebrations a remarkable and blissful success,” the HTA president added. The founders/trustees, donors, devotees and all associated with the iconic Hindu Temple can justifiably feel proud of the temple’s sterling and exemplary role in enriching the community with rich Hindu culture, traditions and values. It is a thriving and throbbing temple which celebrates popular Indian festivals, hosts classes in yoga and meditation; performing arts; Sanskrit language classes; spiritual teachings; spiritual discourses by eminent and erudite scholars from abroad; and performances by noted visiting artistes. It hosts visits by students from schools and colleges, tourists and students of temple history and architecture. It supports outreach causes like national or international disaster relief programs and provides educational scholarships to deserving students.

Gujarati Literary Society Of USA’s Evening With Writers BY SANJAY PANDYA & NIMISH SEVAK Atlanta, GA: Gujarati Literary Society of USA’s maiden event “Shabd ane Kavitani Anokhi Jugalbandhi: Kajal Oza Vaidya and Shobhit Desai Sathe (A unique literary journey of a prose writer Kajal Oza Vaidya and a poet Shobhit Desai)” took place on June 17, 2017 at Lucky Shoals Park Community Center on a hot Atlanta evening. Atlantans fond of literature, overwhelmingly welcome such effort by this new organization. On behalf of Gujarati Literary Society of USA Shri Nimishbhai Sevak welcomed everyone and explained the need and objective of this new organization. Dr. Dhaval Shah who runs http:// layastaro. com introduced Kajal as a superstar of Gujarati literature. Elaborating on it Dr. Shah said Kajal Oza Vaidya has worked on all forms of writing with remarkable ease, be it novels, TV serials or film scripts!

about famous Gujarati huDr. Prakash Desai, a noted pemorist late Jyotindra Dave. diatrician of Atlanta, introduced Narrating some incidents of Shobhit Desai as a close friend for the Jyotindrabhi’s life, he made past 24 years! He hailed Shobhit the audience laugh their hearts Desai’s understanding of Urdu poetry, out! and Ghalib in particular. The office bearers of Two collection of poems by GCANA, the Vaishnav Samaj Shobhit Desai namely “Andharani and Ambaji USA / Shri Shakti Barakhadi” and “Hava Par Nam Mandir encouraged Gujarati Litlakhi shakay” were inaugurated by erary Society of USA’s efforts Nitin Shah, chairman of Embassy by remaining present and enNational Bank and a close friend couraging their efforts. of Shobhit Desai. L to R: Sanjay Pandya ,Mustafa Ajmeri ,Shobhit Desai, Nimish Sevak, The cultural ambassaKajal talked about her literDr.Prakash Desai , Nitin Shah,Jatin Shah, Kajal Oza-Vaidya, Dr. Dhaval Shah dor of Atlanta Mustafa ary journey: from a decision not to Ajmeri thanked all literature write to almost 56 volumes of her loving people who were works! Talking about some of her Shobhit Desai started his speech with the present, speakers and volunteers of the event. The famous works for about an hour, she gave glimpses of what made her to write. She gave a very rare recitation of three of his poems and then jumped Gujarati Literary Society of USA consists of Chirag and vivid explanation about her writing to all her into the lighter side of literature. Along with his Thakkar, Jatin Shah, Nimesh Sevak, Mustafa readers! commitment to poetry, he felt compelled to talk Ajmeri and Sanjay Pandya.

........City News ........


July 2017

Lectures By Yogi Amrit Desai On Healing Benefits Of Yoga Nidra

Atlanta, GA: Yogi Amrit Desai is one of a handful of gurus who came to America from India in the early 1960s. This wave began the initial yoga craze in the west. Yogi Desai is one of the first arrivals and the last living guru from this initial wave, and a pioneer in bringing the authentic practices of Yoga to the west. On June 22 and 23, yoga enthusiasts availed of Gurudev Desai’s lectures on the healing miracles of yoga and yoga nidra at the Siddhi Vinayak Temple in Global Mall. The lectures, which included guided yoga nidra sessions, were hosted by Shiv Aggarwal of Global Mall. The first day’s lecture and guided yoga nidra session was on the topic, “Eliminate stress with yoga nidra”. The second day’s lecture progressed

to the healing benefits of yoga and yoga nidra. Yogi Desai guided attendees, who were in a comfortable lying down position, through a series of breathing exercises and simple instructions. Within a short time, the attendees became submerged in the alpha state. “Over 80% of health problems are stress-related,” the Yogi earlier said. While conventional, alternative and holistic medicines treat only the symptoms, “yoga nidra goes beyond the ego mind, and removes karmic memory and energy blocks that cause inner conflict.” He likened the effect of yoga nidra on health problems to tackling the submerged as well as the visible parts of an iceberg. Yogi Desai lamented that around the world, practitioners are fixated with only the physical aspects of yoga. “Real yoga is not practiced even in India. The physical cannot be separated from the mind. Real yoga creates balance inside you,” he said. According to Deepak Chopra, “Yogi Amrit Desai is a pioneer in introducing Yoga to the West, but more significantly through his unique style, his method of teaching draws upon the original

spiritual depth that is missing in the popular practice of Hatha Yoga.” Following in the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda who

popularized yoga in the west, Yogi Amritji has played a key role in recapturing and restoring the profound power of the authentic teachings of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga and Yoga Sutras. Since the time of his arrival in the U.S. in February 1960, he continues to make a significant impact on transforming the history of yoga in the western world. Yogi Desai started teaching yoga in the early

1960s in the Philadelphia area. In the late 60’s he formed The Yoga Society of Pennsylvania. He went on to start 5 yoga and health centers. By 1994, Yoga teachers trained in the systems developed by Shri Amritji were teaching in 52 states and 45 countries around the globe. To date, more than 8,000 Yoga and Yoga Nidra teachers have been certified. In 2001, Yogi Desai started the Amrit Yoga Institute (AYI), Salt Springs, Florida. This thriving yoga ashram and program center offers professional trainings in Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Therapy, and Quantum Breath meditation, as well as in a wide range of health- and spirituality-related programs. In 2014, Amritji co-founded the International University of Yoga and Ayurveda, which offers in-depth coursework and certification for Ayurvedic Practitioners, as well as Pancha Karma detox programs on the AYI campus. Amongst his many awards, honors and titles, he is the recipient of the International Yoga Grand Master 2013 title from Padma Shri H.H. Jagat Guru Amrta Suryananda Maharaj. The only previous recipients of this award are Padma Shri Dr.H.R. Nagendra, SVYASA University Bangalore and B.K.S. Iyengar. He was also nominated for the Padma Vibhushan in 1992. The lecture sessions at Siddhi Vinayak Temple ended with aarti performed by priest Pundit Gyan Prakash Upadhyay.

Atlanta’s Funny-bone Tickled At Hasya Kavi Sammelan BY SHILPA AGRAWAL Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Hindi Association, in collaboration with International Hindi Association once again brought people together to appreciate poetry that cuts across all borders of age, class and nationality. Judging from the numbers that thronged Berkmar High School on the Saturday Evening of April 29 ,2017, the Hasya Kavi Sammelan was an eponymous success. The legendary names of Padmashri Dr. Sunil Jogi, Gajendra Solanki and Sudeep Bhola in contemporary Hindi realms served as beacons to attract Atlanta literati to come and enjoy the laughter riot. Over 500 people enjoyed the show this year. The program began with beautiful rendering of Shlokas and prayers by local children who kept the audience mesmerized throughout their performance. Aslam Pervez who was amazing as the Master of Ceremony introduced the poets. Consul D V Singh welcomed the poets with bouquets. Sanjeev Agarwal, Director of International Hindi Association recognized the never-dying efforts of Shiv Agarwal in the field of social work and Mustafa Ajmeri for his outstanding contribution towards arts and entertainment. The insane, infectious laugh-a -thon began with the tall Sudeep Bhola. He explained how professional habits die hard and how he stayed faithful to being a poet even during his wedding ceremony in a sing-song, tell-tale fashion. Funny parodies on socio- political issues in his overly soulful voice kept the audience enthralled with continuous kicks of laughter. He left the podium may be an inch taller because of all the admiration he received for the genuine comedy he copied on the popular Hindi songs. Gajendra Solanki, had a different brand of humor and floored the listeners as he recited his poetry with a punch of everyday humor. Each line he uttered was punctuated with a resounding applause as he, through gentle satire, enlivened mo-

Shukla, Priyanka Jain, Manish Sinha , Bharti Tiwari, Premal Shah , Rakesh Yadav, Anand Verma , Ashwani Srivastava , Ashish Agarwal , Avi Verma, Praloy Majumdar, Vikas Arora, Vineet Gupta, Devesh Dalmia, Ankur Jain and Sanjeev Arora. There was a train of Kid volunteers taking responsibility to iron out any creases which included Atharv Chaurasia, Shivam Agarwal, Anish Agarwal, Vaidehi Gupta, Ridhima Agarwal, Eishan Sinha and Ayan Agarwal. Sovi Salon,, Om Arora Tax and Insurance Services, Peachtree Smiles, Si-

rality with wit and tempered wit with morality. He left the podium with a little more insane audience but enlightened with his social messages. Dr. Sunil Jogi was a true charmer and befits the metaphor of a crowd-puller. As a poet of note and repute he entertained with his long winded rhythmic poems on various issues. His subtle and not-so subtle jibes on the institution of marriage charmed men and women alike. He brought up issues standing large in South-East Asia and came up with funny solutions to those. In his poetry he bore the message that laughter has the capability to bring normalcy back to a fragmented world. 2017 episode of Hasya Kavi Sammelan was a well-organized event with great attention to detail. Food was served before the event to save the audience from hunger pangs while they had to laugh hard through the entire length of event. This event took a great leap by making a rare arrangement to keep the kids young and small occupied in

group activities outside the event hall so that the families with kids could enjoy the event without distraction. This hugely successful sold-out event came to fruition because of volunteers who sweated hard day and night to make everything perfect. Sanjeev Agarwal thanked and recognized his core team which included Pradeep Gupta, Amit Chaurasia, Richa Sinha, Rajesh Agarwal, Hemant Jerath and Dipti Gupta along with all the dedicated volunteers – Parul Gupta, Ruchi Chaurasia , Mansi Singhal, Ankur Singhal, Meera Agarwal, Brijrani Verma, Sandhya Bhagat, Mustafa Ajmeri, Manju Tiwari, Seema Garg, Sapana Dalmia, Om Arora, Pawandeep Singh, Anil Bhagat , Gaurav Jain, Gajendra Pandey, Pankaj Bhutoria, Sachchidanand

tar Indian Cuisine, ABC Renovations, Suvidha Indian Grocery, Beauty Bar Salon, Global Mall, Master App Labs and The Teak Tree Home Furniture sponsored this event. The event was supported by Shiv Mandir Of Atlanta, BAJA Atlanta, Agarwal Samaj of Georgia, Dr Deepak Das and Shilpi Das, Dr. Shalini Pandey, BM Yadav, Kaushal Tripathi, Dhananjay Gupta, Indian Bazaar and Shivam Grocery. The event culminated with raffle drawing and prize distribution. This session of laughter and verse tickled the funny bone of the audience that clamored for more. Atlanta Hindi Association will continue to hold such events and looks forward to bringing people together for entertainment and more in its forthcoming events.


........ City News ........

July 2017

Dhoop Chaoon Theater Group Celebrates 10th Anniversary BY SHABANA SAYEED Atlanta, GA: The city once again brimmed with joy when Dhoop Chaoon, an Atlanta-based Hindi theater group, came up with their marvelous 10th anniversary show on 20th May. Dhoop Chaoon, successfully reached to its 10th year holding the hands of Sandhya Bhagat and Anil Bhagat. The opulence in this group doesn’t come with money, but by the hearty participation of its members. From every edge of the world people are welcomed and all the members share a substantial bond of kinship. Over 350 people attended the anniversary celebration where the fusion of convention and modernism delivered the messages of love, unity and fraternity prevalent in Indian culture. Aslam Parvez, the emcee, uplifted the show by reiterating its past attainments and glory with his elegant and soliciting voice. Later, when Renu Thapliyal, his co-anchor joined him on stage, it was indeed a visual delight to the audience. The chief guest Consul General Nagesh Singh with Consul D. V. Singh and other dignitaries were felicitated and once they spread their best wishes towards the group the performances took place one by one. The event ushered its first performance through Dastangoi: Sharandata, an act presented through the story-telling method which is almost archaic in today’s world. The story writer Sachidanand Vatsyan Agey and the participants Sachin Bapat, Abhinav, Darshana, Anubhuti, Akanksha Rajpal, Satish Dharamarajan along with the director Sandhya Bhagat were fantastic. Set in the backdrop of India-Pakistan partition, this play invokes the turbulence of the period and the emotional topsy-turvy experienced by both Hindus and Muslims. The terrors of partition is exposed through two friends- one Hindu and another Muslim. Devinder Lal seeks refuge in his Muslim friend Rafeequddin’s house. His anxiety and agitation, helplessness and confusion, friendship and betrayal are depicted fruitfully by the actors. The second performance, a dazzling one, was a tribute to the living legend of Bollywood Madhuri Dixit. Just after the serious play based on partition this dance by Renu Thapliyal was a catharsis to the audience by releasing the tragic tension. She illustrated many of the legend’s songs through her lively and enthralling gestures on stage. To keep up the spirit of diversity a parody is presented next. Gadbad Ghotala (A Scandal of Confusions), a light hearted but thoughtful presentation snatched the audience’s attention bringing up the significance of different languages spoken in India and the importance of learning the national language Hindi. The play held the unique quality of India- ‘unity in diversity’. The actors were Arpana Purani, Veena Katdare, Paresh Jain, Madhav Katdare, Aakanksha Patangay, Anjali Chabria, Vicky Adhikari, Aruna Vinod, Meenakshi Mehta, Renu Kumar and Suparna Pathak. In the whole event even the break got much importance not only because it served some luscious dishes but because the break itself launched the ground for the next performance- Namoozi Kharboozi aur Tota (The Knickknacks and the Parrot), a comic play, originally written by K. P. Saxena. All the actors e.g. Nida Pawar Shariff, Nomana khan, Nidhi Mishra, Rozina Gilani, Nidhi

Pipal, Navin Gurnaney, Jayesh Jhurani, Aloke Sharma and Sarfraz Khan with their gorgeous costumes presented the first scene in the cafeteria and

and needless to say, enjoyed by all. Soon after, Dhoop Chaoon Ka Mukabla (Dhoop Chaoon’s Competition) was conducted

the rest of the play was performed in the auditorium stage. This was a new yet enchanting approach prescribed by the director Sandhya Bhagat

in which some talented actors participated. They were: Jayesh Jhurani, Shree Vora, Sachin Bapat, Kamlesh Chugh, Nidhi Mishra, Aloke Sharma,

Aakanksha Patangay, Satish Dharamrajan and Darshana Kaur. All rendered their acting talents uttering monologues written by themselves. This section was a great opportunity for the candidates to showcase their inherent capacities and bring them into light. The program went to its final steps with a Bollywood dance. A group of thirteen people (Vikas Jain, Neetu Sharma, Renu kumar, Aarti Lunawat, Shabana Sayeed, Shree Vora, Vyoma Gupta, Aruna Vinod, Tarana Vij, Nidhi Pipal, Moiez Hussian, Manjari Hegde and Varsha Gupta) portraying the traditional Indian sensibility through Garba was a matter of enthrallment. While the actual Garba, originated in Gujarat, India, depicts spiritualism and reciprocity to the divine, this dance on the stage of Atlanta delineated a beautiful fusion of the ancient and the modern. The song in the Bollywood movie Ramleela plays an important role illustrating the moment of excited whirling on part of a woman for her lover to arrive and in a juncture of crisis they are blended into one. This spectacular Garba seasoned with Dhoop Chhaon’s Bollywood touch was indeed an amusing treat to the eyes. The event reached to an end with the program director Sandhya Bhagat’s concluding speeches. Also, the winning candidates of the competition were complimented. Recognition came for the people who had helped in the whole program to make it a hit by their precious presence, continuous support and hard work. Moiez, Aloke, Vicky, Hafeez and VijayTandon helped in the stage setting. Ekta Narula Sethi, Madhav katdare, Bimal Pathak, Nitu Chauhan, Navin Tyagi, Shankar Mahadevan were for other backstage help. Anil Bhagat & Gandharv Bhagat were the key persons

Indian-American Professor Wrongfully Accused Of Child Trafficking By Delta Atlanta, GA: An Indian-American Iowa State University professor and his white adopted son had their flight plans delayed after a Delta flight attendant reported him for suspicious activity in Atlanta, reports WHOTV. Professor Lakshman Rajagopal, a single father, had just arrived at Hartsfield Jackson Airport after a 6 am flight from Des Moines when he was stopped by Delta employees. He was told child trafficking has been a big issue and airlines have been told to keep an eye out for possible cases. Rajagopal says a flight attendant alerted the pilot of suspicious activity because he looked nervous when he requested a different seat for more room for him and his toddler son. The pilot then called the Atlanta airport where two employees were waiting on his arrival and questioned him. Rajagoapal says he was asked questions like, “Who’s this, who are you traveling with and where are you going? What’s your relation-

ship with this child?” The professor says the experience was humiliating. “ I don’t know if I want to fly Delta. Also, on the 28th I have to go back to Iowa and I’m

kind of scared to go to Iowa and scared to go on a flight to Iowa. I’m not against Delta but I feel like this is a good example with how people still have a problem with color. I didn’t think my behavior was suspicious because at 6 AM, with a toddler, a single parent, how am I supposed to look? I don’t think I’d look excited,” he said. “I told them if I was white, this would not be a problem because a white person with a white child would be fine.” Delta offered him a $500 voucher to use within a year. They’ve also said they will use his situation as a way to improve their security training with employees, reports WHOTV.


........Atlanta Pulse ........

July 2017

The Story Of Unlikely Hikers Atop Mount Kilimanjaro BY SHAILESH SARDA With inputs from his team members This is the story of how one good thing led to the achievement of seemingly impossible goals. This is a story to remind everyone in the community that it’s never too late to set a huge fitness goal and lead a healthier, more active life.

The Beginning It all started when Lakshman picked up hiking with the Atlanta Outdoor Club. He had hiked the Appalachian Trail in GA/NC and the Inca Trail. In June of 2015, he asked the neighborhood squad if anyone was interested in going for a hike. On 6/20/15 Ravi, Shailesh and Dilip joined Lakshman on the first hike, a 6-mile difficulty level 5 hike on the Jones Bridge Trail. The very next week we went on another hike, this time on Kennesaw Mountain. Our hiking picked up in real earnest in December of 2015. We hiked Amicalola Falls, an 11-mile difficulty level 3 hike. By June 2016, we had done 20 hikes, averaging 10 miles per hike. The rain and cold couldn’t stop us. Of course, we did have to invest in all sorts of appropriate hiking gear like – day pack with rain cover, rain coat, waterproof hiking boots, gaiters, base layers, absorbent towels, hiking poles. We went on large group, small group, and solo hikes. One year into our journey, we threw around the idea of potentially climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Of course, this was the start of a new WhatsApp group for everyone brave enough to take on the challenge. Kili is a hike of 19,000 feet. To prepare for this trip we needed to do some serious altitude training, so we decided to plan a trip to Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Denver. As we researched Mt. Elbert, reality began to sink in and we realized we would have to do the entire long hike before the afternoon thunderstorms on the mountain. To practice, we went to UnicoiBrasstown Bald on the Appalachian Trail. When we managed the 20-mile 6000-foot ascent in 10 hours, the Mt. Elbert trip was ON. In Denver we acclimatized for two days and did a trial hike to become familiar with the trail. To make sure we made it back down before the afternoon storms, we started the full hike at 4 am. The hike was tough and we frequently felt like giving up. We learned about false summits – we saw a summit, reached that summit, and realized there was more to climb. It took a great deal of grit, determination, and support from each other to make it to the top, but once we reached the summit, we were literally on cloud nine. We discovered how the altitude would affect our breathing and ability to hike. With the right training we were confident that we could handle Kili after this 14,000-foot hike.

The Roof of Africa As an effort to make sure we committed to the trip, Shailesh, Lakshman, Dilip, Krishna, Sunil, and Aravind booked flights first and worked backwards to plan the details. Kili was going to be a 6night/7-day trek, so the research, planning and shopping was intense. We were going to hike through the humid rainforest at the foot of the mountain and on the icy glacier at the summit. Decisions had to be made about sleeping bags, cameras/chargers, rain/cold inner/outer layers, summit day gear, hiking bags/poles, etc. We prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. Luckily, we got a super crew for our trek. Our lead guide, Mahamud, and his two assistants, Denny and Raja, were phenomenal. Mahamud maintained our slow pace to help us acclimatize to the altitude and save our energy for the harder days. He assured us that “the mountain is not going anywhere!” We hiked 5 climate zones – rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert, the arctic – and the views

What did the hike teach us? Set goals – Setting up Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals was key to our success. The smaller short-term goals along the way were crucial to achieving our main long-term goal of hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro. Enjoy the journey – We spent 15 minutes on top of Mt. Elbert and one hour on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, but we spent hundreds of hours hiking. We absorbed the beautiful views on every trail and enjoyed the company of friends and strangers. We meditated sometimes and joked around other times. These moments were just as unforgettable as the time on the peak. Be humble – The cold, the rain, the heat, and every steep hill constantly reminded us that the mountain could humble us very quickly.

were priceless. The team was very supportive of each other. Lakshman Guttikonda was our true leader from day one. Despite his experience and fitness, he always encouraged us to hike at our own pace. He often hiked at our pace or waited after he finished. Krishna Evuru was the pharmacist with all medical supplies. Dilip Tunki was the manager and most dependable member of the team if anyone needed any help. Aravind Reddy Gillella was the young gun who joined the group last and provided opportunities for jokes on him. Sunil Kalva joined to enjoy a trip with the guys and asked us older folks profound questions such as, what motivates us to do these hikes?! The team spirit was remarkable. Most of us were nervous in our ability to reach the peak. Two of the six had not done Mt. Elbert but they were the youngest of the lot. We wanted to be over prepared to meet any challenges we could encounter. We had read that friendships can be tested on the mountain, so we were very aware to not let that happen. After a day’s rest in Kibo, we headed to Moshi to

begin our hike. Day 1 from Londorosi to Mt Mkubwa was an easy, 4-mile day from 2000 ft. to 9500 ft. The first night at camp we started to understand the routine – sponge bath, pack, unpack, dinner, sleep, breakfast, resume hike. Day 2 was a surprisingly tough day to Shira II. Day 3 to Barranco reached an altitude of 15,000 ft., but we camped at 13,000 ft. to acclimatize. On day 4 we crawled up the Barranco wall to Karanga valley. We reached Barafu, the base camp before the summit, on day 5. During this most strenuous part of the hike, we went almost sleepless for 58 hours. That was the toughest part of the trip. We were excited and nervous, so getting 2 hours of sleep between lunch and supper and supper and the start of summit day was impossible. We enjoyed the hail storm leading up to the climb to Barafu camp. We were in awe of the 4500 ft in 3 miles that we were going to climb. We were looking at folks that were returning. We could not believe our bad luck when we heard thunder storms before we started for the summit at 11:30 pm.

We were sleepy, tired, cold, and wet from the thunderstorms, that thankfully stopped quickly. With yogic deep breathing, chants of “Govinda,” and encouragement from our persistent guides, we kept going. It was a steep climb. Sunil describes our climb well when he says he didn’t have the energy to even grab a snack from his backpack, and at certain points, his steps were shorter than a 2-year-old’s. As we marched on like zombies, we started to see the very welcome early rays of sunrise. We joyously reached Stella point, our first summit at 8:30 am with clear blue skies, hot sun and excellent visibility. We continued on for another half mile to Uhuru peak, the roof of Africa, at 19,341 ft. According to Krishna, the tears of joy in his eyes when we finally made it to the summit were out of gratitude for his family, friends, trainers and yoga teacher, without whom this trip would not have been possible. They were also in memory of his parents who passed away a few years ago. The sense that he was closer to them at this high altitude was a priceless feeling. Would we do this again? Without a doubt. We are already planning Annapurna Circuit.

........Atlanta Pulse ........

July 2017


All In The Family: Behind The Patel Brothers Success Story BY VEENA RAO

chick peas instead of dal, bread and butter in the place of rotis. They yearned for the smells and When 23-year-old Mafat Patel left his small tastes of home. Then, the brothers heard from a village of Bandu in Gujarat’s Mehsana district for friend that he was selling his 800 sq. ft. grocery the US in 1968, little could he have foreseen his store on 2034 West Devon Avenue. They bought future as co-founder and head of the sprawling the store for $1500 in 1973, and Patel Brothers multi-million dollar Patel Brothers empire. The was born. journey was to fulfill his father’s dream that one For 16 years, Mafat kept his day job and helped in the grocery store in the Mafat and Chanchal Patel on their farm in Bandu, afterhours, working 18 hours on Gujarat. Photos courtesy Rita Patel. week days. While he was the brains, his brother Talashi was the labor in charge of the day to day operations of the store. Talashi’s wife Aruna opened the store at 10. Mafat, who worked the 7 to 3 shift at Reliance, manned the store of his sons should go to America. “There were a couple of others from our village who had come to the US in 1958 and ’60. They encouraged my father to send me here,” he reminisces. Already married and the father of three, a son and two daughters, the future entrepreneur had to leave his family behind to make the long trip to the unknown. Patel comes from a farming family, but he had gone to college in the neighboring town and was equipped with an electrical engineering degree. After finishing grad school at Indiana University, Patel moved to Chicago and joined Reliance Electric, a Japanese owned company which was later taken over by Exxon. Soon, his wife Chanchal and his three kids Rakesh, Mina and Rita joined him. A second son, Shvetal was born on US soil in 1971. His brother Talashi also arrived around the same time, and found work on the factory floors of Reliance. The two families lived together, worked hard and endured the cold Chicago winters. The brothers are married to sisters, which made adjustments easier. However, they struggled with food. In the America of the early 1970s, cooking a wholesome Gujarati vegetarian meal was difficult. Without the right ingredients, substitutions were the norm-

Talashi Patel leaving for the US.

from 4 pm up to closing time. His wife Chanchal took care of all six children at home. “The arrangement was only possible because our wives were sisters,” laughs Mafat, of their joint living and working arrangements. The two families continue to live together as one unit, albeit in different buildings. Chanchal passed away after battling cancer in 2004. Initially, the brothers bought locally from an Arabian (Middle Eastern) store in New York. “We took a van and drove to NY. We packed a few cases of pickles, dal… whatever we needed. Everything was loose, so we had to repack Some members of the Patel clan with the founders. everything our-

Brothers Mafat and Talashi Patel.

ers success story. “In our family, all cousins are brothers,” says Kalpesh. “That is how close we are.” Hard work, honesty and community relations are the other reasons, according to Mafat. Today, there are over 150 members of the family involved directly in the business. “I am proud to say that nobody in the family has ever collected unemployment,” he jokes. Even the third generation of Patels, who are CPAs and attorneys, eventually come back to the family fold after gaining experience in their fields. There is never any friction within the large family because each center only reports to Chicago, insists Kalpesh. Among Mafat’s sons, Rakesh, a finance guy, oversees new structures and is responsible for developing the swanking shopping centers around the country. His younger brother Shvetal is a marketing professional, and handles purchasing. Mafat is now 73 years old and has semiretired. He spends time visiting his many stores across the country. He also devotes time to his

selves,” Mafat says. “In those days, there was no Food and Drug Administration or the USDA to bother us.” The brothers started importing in 1976. The following year, they opened their second store in Chicago to provide occupation for their sister and brother-in-law who arrived from Gujarat. By the year 1981, they were ready to expand again. They opened two stores in Houston and Atlanta, two cities with large Indian populations. Their boldest move was to open a store in New York in 1983. With expansion, came the need to have warehouses to eliminate middle-men. Hence Raja Foods was born, and warehouses opened over the years in Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey and Houston. When Mafat and his nephew Kalpesh Patel Mafat’s older son Rakesh came aboard Patel Brothers, he acquired the Swad social and charitable endeavors in India which includes Brand in 1992. The first Patel Brothers in Atlanta was a non- a nursing college in his wife’s name in Gandhinagar descript store in Avondale Estate, a far cry from (which was inaugurated by Narendra Modi who was the 23,000 sq ft buzzing current store that is then chief minister of Gujarat), and a burns center in housed in Patel Plaza, currently the largest shop- Anand, in collaboration with AAPI (American Assoping center in their network. A brother-in-law was ciation of Physicians of Indian origin). He also continues to see lofty dreams. “I want to put in charge of the store until Kalpesh Patel, see 100 stores in my lifetime, “he says. With the growth Chanchal’s brother’s son, took over in 2004. It is a business tradition for family members who graph and formidable reputation this Indian grocery arrive from India learn the ropes of the trade at one of chain has had, there seem to be no impediments to the stores. Then, in six to seven years, when they have Mafat’s dream bearing fruition. In the 13 years that Kalpesh has called Atlanta honed their business skills, they are ready to head a new store in a new city. Kalpesh, who worked in one of the home, Patel Brothers has entrenched itself firmly in the Chicago stores was bound for New York in 2003 to community’s psyche. Apart from being the most suchead a store in New Jersey. At that point, came the cessful Indian store in the region, Patel Brothers is known news that Harshad Patel of Sreeji Groceries wanted to to give back to the community through cultural and social event sponsorships. sell his store in Decatur. The new 40,000 sq ft Patel Brothers in “There were several people to take care of the New York/New Jersey region, but nobody in the fam- Suwanee will be among their largest stores (to be ily wanted to come to Atlanta,” says Kalpesh. Taking it superseded only by the upcoming 60,000 sq. ft. as an opportunity to develop the Southeast region, store in Naperville, IL). The sparkling shopping Kalpesh moved to Atlanta in July 2004. Very soon, center is being developed on a 14-acre property Patel Brothers opened in Charlotte and Raleigh. Today, and is currently being leased out. “We are targeting a March opening, just in there are eight Patel Brothers stores in the Southeast. The 9th store is scheduled to open doors in Charlotte time for Holi,” says Kalpesh. The Suwanee store and the 10th in the Suwanee/Cumming area in March will have an abundance of produce, along with the 2018. Nationwide, this store will take the tally to 54 other products that shoppers are used to. This is welcome news indeed, for the burstores. Keeping it all within the close-knit family is geoning Indian population in the Suwanee/ perhaps one of the ingredients of the Patel Broth- Cumming/Johns Creek areas.


........City News ........

July 2017

BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Atlanta Welcomes Mahant Swami Atlanta, GA: On Wednesday, June 21, 2017, devotees and well-wishers gathered to welcome His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, GA. It was Swami Maharaj’s first trip to North America as Guru and President of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, continuing the life work and mission of his guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj following his earthly departure. Following his arrival, a welcome assembly was held by BAPS community members on June 23, 2017. The welcome assembly marked a special occasion for devotees who had worked together for several months planning for Mahant Swami Maharaj’s visit. In preparation for his arrival, devotees prepared traditional Hindu gifts of honor such as garlands and shawls. Children and youth practiced their talents for the many scheduled programs during his visit and cultivated their knowledge of spiritual texts and devotional songs to memory as an expression of their heartfelt gratitude. The welcome assembly included US Congressman Rob Woodall, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, and Consul D.V. Singh, Head of Chancery, Consulate General of India in Atlanta. Also present were leaders of the city of Lilburn: Bill Johnsa, City Manager, Chief Bruce Hedley, Chief of Police, Doug Stacks, Director of Planning and Economic Development, and Nikki Perry, Public Relations Manager as well as leaders of numerous Hindu and non-faith based organizations from the Greater Atlanta area. The theme of the welcome assembly focused

on the presentation of a Hindu Vedic pujan to officially greet Mahant Swami Maharaj. This pujan consisted of the recitation of scriptural shlokas and various offerings. Following this pujan, BAPS youth from throughout the Southeast region performed a traditional swagat dance. The welcome assembly was concluded with blessings from Mahant Swami Maharaj. “You can tell a lot about a place and its people and you make me swell with pride with this warm

tion that the joy in these faces is truly found in the joy of others in our community.” While m e e t i n g Mahant Swami

greeting. This congregation and its people welcome everyone. Everyone has been invited. That’s not easy to do to reach out and make them feel welcomed. BAPS has done that,” expressed Rob Woodall, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Woodall also remembered the life motto of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj (In the joy of others, lies our own) when he mentioned, “While I had never heard the phrase before in my life, I can tell you now with convic-

Maharaj before the assembly, Woodall shared, “I am in awe internally of the spiritual fortitude of your volunteers.” As part of Mahant Swami Maharaj threemonth tour across North America, he will visit eight cities in the United States. He will attend numerous celebrations including the ten-year anniversaries of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandirs in Atlanta, Toronto, and San Jose as well as a Murti Pratishta, a ritual to sanctify the murtis, for abhishekh in Robbinsville, NJ. Special celebration days for children, young adults and women are also planned in each location. Devotees have spent months developing dynamic cultural programs and preparing facili-

ties to support thousands of attendees at each event. Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s vision continues to be his driving force behind guiding spiritual activities and organizational efforts. Throughout his life, Mahant Swami Maharaj has emphasized the importance of unity as the foundation for families, organizations, and communities. His life communicates the core values of BAPS rooted in mutual understanding, tolerance, respect, and consideration for individuals. During his tour, he aims to continue to inspire devotees throughout North America to live a healthy, balanced life, filled with spirituality, morals, family values, and respect for others. For more details regarding His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj’s North America visit, please visit or follow #MahantSwami on social media.

Deeksha School’s New Production To Raise Funds For Raksha Atlanta, GA: The Deeksha School of Performing Arts is ready to take stage once again on July 29, 2017 at the newly renovated KSU Dance Theater within the Joe Mack Wilson Student Center, KSU (formerly SPSU) with its new production “Prakriti”, showcasing dances in the Bharatanatyam Style, followed by a drama staged in Hindi under the direction of Usha Ganguli. This is the 10th year of the Deeksha School of Performing Arts under Anupa Guha Thakurta. In 2009, she presented “Sanskriti”. In 2014, she came back with “Aakriti”. The school is back again with another bold modern theme in “Prakriti”. Prak[iti (in Vedanta) is the prime material energy of which all matter is composed. Whenever energy exists in the world and whenever power becomes active, Prakriti is said to be working. It is the basic nature of intelligence by which the Universe (depicted as a feminine form) exists and functions. It is described in Bhagavad Gita as the “primal motive force”. Prakriti also means nature. In Hindu mythology, there is a constant struggle between Prakriti (the wild nature) and Sanskriti (culture and society). All the wisdom of our forefathers deal with striking a balance between the wild and the law and order of civilized society. All animals succumb to the primal forces of Prakriti. But not humans - we have learned to conquer the primal desires that permeate Prakriti, and bound ourselves into our Sanskriti – to create Aakriti (a

uniquely gifted image). The show completes the triumvirate between Prakriti, Sanskriti and Aakriti started in 2009. Prakriti is Deeksha School of Performing Arts’ humble tribute to power of women – an ode to the creative feminine; from the mythological women to the women in society today. From the tradi-

tional to contemporary – Prakriti focuses on women, the creative feminine and the feminine energy that surrounds us. The program depicts women in their grace, purity, tenderness, beauty and their relationships with other women, their daughters and the men in their lives. Prakriti is conceived and choreographed by

Anupa Guha Thakurta, and fifty-six students and twenty-five other performers will be seen along with her. The program features two Acts. Act 1 — Nritya, showcases traditional and contemporary dances in Bharatanatyam. Act 2 – Natya, is aptly called Prakriti: The Untouchable, a recreation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Chandalika written in the year 1938 under the direction of renowned theater maestro and director – Usha Ganguli. The dance drama revolves around the societal women, the complexities of human mind and its conflicting needs and wants. Usha Ganguli, has blazed a trail all over India with her thought provoking visual and oral communications. A theater-director and actor par excellence with a background in Bharatanatyam, Usha Ganguli is known for such remarkable work like Rudali, Court Martial, Holi and Raincoat. Prakriti, through its sale of tickets, will be raising funds for Raksha - a Georgia-based nonprofit organization promoting a stronger and healthier South Asian community through confidential support services, education, and advocacy. This evening promises over 150 minutes of entertainment, an exhaustive range of emotions, a celebration of rhythm and music, acting of a unique kind, wondrous and haunting storytelling beyond par and hopes to leave an imprint on your memories forever. For more information and tickets please visit or call 404.788.5000/404.876.0670/678.386.7873

July 2017

......... Perspective/Feature ........


Domestic Violence & The Neha Rastogi Case – An Open Letter BY APARNA BHATTACHARYYA & MADHU DESHMUKH* To my beloved community, We have seen your power – the power to make a change, the power to work towards a community that is equal, just and peaceful; the power to support the voices of those who are otherwise unheard. That’s you We have seen you do this and do it well!. You can support a survivor by just letting them know they are not alone and you are with them through their journey and fight for justice and safety. As Neha Rastogi’s story became viral, We can say We feel proud for your concern & support. You have added your voice to hers, shared your own stories of strength and started the difficult conversation round domestic violence with your family, friends, neighbors and community. On the other hand, We also see some of you who are blaming Neha – for waiting too long and not leaving sooner, for being ‘educated and empowered’ and yet staying with her violent husband.. We have seen some of you say in your social media posts, ‘maybe she deserved it!’ Dear community, where were you when you heard her husband talking down to her? Or – Where are you when you hear another survivor’s husband abusing his wife? Do you just stand by and listen as he calls her names and talks down to her in public? Do you remind her that she is powerful and intelligent, and when she is ready you would walk that journey with her? No one ‘deserves’ to be in the situation that Neha was in. Dear community, it is far too easy to judge and blame survivors like Neha, when you have not walked in her shoes. Have we really made an effort to understand the situation that Neha was in? What drove her to make the choices and decisions

she did? Making a decision to leave an abusive relationship is more complicated than it seems. There are many factors such as immigration status, the ability to work, family pressure, and social stigma that survivors have to weigh when they decide to leave. Regardless of the factors, we must recognize that living with violence takes strength and power. A survivor is more likely to be killed when they are leaving and yet we always focus on why she does not leave. Dear community, it is important we take a look at the messages we send to the young girls and women in our lives. How many times have we made an effort to understand how the choices we make are governed by the messages we hear as children?. What message does it send when we tell girls how they need to act and and look in order to get a good husband? Then once they are married, we tell women it is their duty to be patient and deal with the abuse for the good of the family. What messages do we share with our young boys when we say not to cry and that showing their feelings is weak. We teach them that being a man equals being aggressive and powerful. How many times do we justify the boys ill-treating girls, or men abusing

their wife in public, by saying – ‘men will be men and “boys will be boys’. What will our sons and daughters grow up hearing and believing? Dear community, how many of you have stopped talking to the divorced wife and her children in your own community? Do you continue to invite her and her children to the parties? What messages do we give to our daughters and sons by stigmatizing and judging the women who are divorced or separated? And do we have the same attitude to the men who are divorced? Dear community, have you thought about how we continue to indirectly support and perpetuate situations of abuse and violence in our own culture and homes? Who do we blame then? Definitely not Neha and other survivors ! Here is a crazy idea, why not blame the abusers ? And what role do we play in perpetuating the silence, not talking about it and acting as if it does not happen? We implore each of you to reflect on what we do on a daily basis to send messages that violence is okay. We perpetuate violence in our homes by not talking about it and perpetuate the culture of blame, stigma, shame and disgrace if a

woman leaves her marriage? Let’s come together and redesign our conversations; let’s harness our power of being the responsible community that wants to create a better world for ourselves, for our daughters and sons – a world free of abuse and violence, a world that is

Dear community, where were you when you heard her husband talking down to her? Or – Where are you when you hear another survivor’s husband abusing his wife? Do you just stand by and listen as he calls her names and talks down to her in public? Do you remind her that she is powerful and intelligent, and when she is ready you would walk that journey with her? equal and just. The time to speak up is now! The time to support is now! The time to start conversations is now! With love and hope. * Aparna Bhattacharyya is the Executive Director, Raksha, Inc and Madhu Deshmukh is a Raksha Board Member. Contact your local domestic violence organization to get involved and make a difference. If you are in Georgia, contact Raksha at or call (404) 876-0670.

Venture Out, Advises Woman Biker Who Travelled Solo For 2,000 Km New Delhi: (IANS) Sending out a strong message of empowerment, Lieutenant Commander Pooja Rajput, who undertook a 2,000-km solo

“When you are a woman riding on a 1600 cc superbike, it attracts lots of attention and there are lots of curious people on the road who try to

“There were a lot of people who were very happy to see me. At gas stations, families would ask to be photographed with me.” coastal ride on her Harley Davidson, says women should travel without any pre-conceived notions. The Indian Navy officer, who counts longdistance riding and photography among her passions, also undertook the solo journey to gauge the safety of travelers like her in India. “Women need to take up travel in India without pre-conceived notions,” said Rajput, who traveled from Goa, to Mangalore, Coorg, Muzhappilangad, Ooty, Coonoor, Calicut, Moodabidri, and Karwar from April 8 to 15 this year. Asked if she faced any difficulties, Rajput said: “Being a naval officer, the training which you get for becoming one solves most of the issues on the road.” But was she worried about her safety? The officer said she was prepared.

stop you, of whom you should be aware. They can create a situation like an accident...,” she said. In one such incident, Rajput said, she overtook a bus, and the driver started honking and

recklessly overtook her. “I was right behind the bus, the bus could not pull up and started slipping backwards. With great difficulty I managed to manoeuvre my bike to the left,” she said. “ S o m e people are very rowdy on the road. A woman on a bike sometimes attracts a lot of unwanted attention. On a smaller bike maybe people just pass by, but I get noticed more because of my superbike,” she said. Her advice to women is not to be scared of venturing out on their own — and being prepared rather than afraid. “You need to get out of the house, sitting in your home and thinking that something would go wrong should not be on your mind. Go out and

assess yourself on the road,” Rajput said. She also advised learning self-defence techniques. “I have a knife with me all the time, I have an iron baton, and a pepper spray... All these things are in my jacket pocket, or my pants pocket. Women should also learn some self-defence techniques,” she said. The route chosen by her comprised everything from beaches, coastal roads to majorly serpentine roads and hilly terrain with lots of hairpin bends that tested her abilities and her superbike. “The hairpin bends one after the other put a lot of strain on an individual’s body, especially with the heavy weight of the superbike. Crossing the hills on the way to Ooty with five narrow and steep hairpin bends was a test of my riding abilities,” Rajput said. She said that through her travels, she also met many people who encouraged her. “There were a lot of people who were very happy to see me. At patrol pumps, families would ask to be photographed with me,” she said. “Throughout the journey, the narrow roads and small bridges which made for picturesque images were breathtaking. Riding through the roads in the wildlife sanctuaries was an experience in its own and cannot be described in words,” Rajput concluded.


Birmingham Store Employee Shot Atlanta, GA: Sameer Hasmukh Patel, a 23-year-old convenience store employee, was shot in the head in an apparent robbery in Birmingham, AL recently, according to NRI Pulse sources. Patel, who was recuperating at the University of Birmingham Hospital reportedly has some brain damage. According to the GoFundMe campaign set up by his family, the left side of his brain is unresponsive, while there is some minor response on the right side. The shooting was captured on CCTV which shows two men, their faces covered, barge into the store and shoot at Patel before fleeing with what appears to be cash from the registry and store items. The Consulate General of India in Atlanta is in touch with Patel’s brother in Birmingham and has assured him of all support. Patel’s mother flew in from Patan in Gujarat to care for her son.

......... NRI News ........

July 2017

Infosys Pays $1 Million For ‘Visa Abuse’ In US Bengaluru: (IANS) Global software major Infosys Ltd paid $1 million (Rs 65 lakh) to settle a litigation on the alleged abuse of visa rules, said New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently. “Infosys has agreed for a $1 million settlement for failing to follow US visa requirements for foreign workers and placing them in New York jobs without paying prevailing wages and taxes owned on them,” said Schneiderman in a statement from New York. In response, the city-based IT major said the settlement related to legal issues already resolved under the 2013 settlement with the US Department of Justice and was reached by both parties to avoid protracted litigation. “The agreement concludes the State of New York’s investigation relating to the amount of taxes the company paid in 2010-2011 without any criminal or civil charges being filed. While this investigation centered on alleged paperwork errors, we committed no wrongdoing and deny all allegations made in this regard,” said the company in an e-mail to IANS. Infosys also asserted that it maintained robust policies and procedures to ensure adherence with all applicable regulations and laws. “We will continue to focus on boosting Ameri-

can innovation, hiring American workers and better serving our valued customers across the US,” it added. Schneiderman, however, clarified that the settlement resolved a whistleblower’s claims that Infosys brought foreign IT personnel into New York to perform work in violation of the terms of their visas. Infosys has a significant presence in New York State and provides consulting and outsourcing services to many New York-based clients in the financial sector, among other industries. To perform the services offered by it, its foreign workers needed H1-B visas. But to avoid the difficulty and expense of obtaining such visas, the company knowingly and unlawfully obtained temporary visitor visas (B-1 visas) instead, as they are much easier to secure. “We will not permit companies to violate our laws in order to undercut New York workers. My office is committed to ensuring that our state’s labour marketplace is fair, competitive and trans-

Man Held For Shooting Ex-Wife, Killing Her Husband Washington: (IANS) An Indian-American man wanted for shooting his former wife and killing her husband was arrested here, officials said. Sayantan Ghose, 41, was arrested at a border checkpoint near Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Thursday and was charged with the murder of Clarence Wayne Harris II and an aggravated assault of Harris’ wife Amanda, police officials said. The shooting was reported around 9 p.m. on Wednesday at a home in Mayhill Ridge Lane during an argument between Ghose and the two residents, ABC-owned television station KTRK reported. According to the League City police, officers found the body of Clarence Wayne Harris II, who

had been shot seven times, lying in the driveway in front of the house. Amanda Harris, Ghose’s ex-wife, was also found suffering from two gunshot wounds and was taken to a hospital for treatment. The police said that there was a party at the house and that at some point the man and woman began arguing with Ghose, which led to the shooting. In an affidavit, Amanda Harris said she called the police shortly before 9 p.m. She told police that she was going to make a citizen arrest because her ex-husband, Ghose, was at her doorstep. The woman also told the police that Ghose had been stalking her for years. A bail of $150,000 was set for Ghose.

parent for all,” said Schneiderman. “As B-1 visas apply only to visits, its holders are not permitted to perform work of the kind Infosys workers were sent to New York to do and they are not subject to the H1-B prevailing wage requirements,” he said. Infosys workers using B-1 visas were doing work that would otherwise have been performed by US citizens or H1-B visa holders and were paid less than what comparable US workers or H1-B visa holders would have been paid in the same positions. “Consequently, New York was deprived of taxes that should have been paid on the higher wages that Infosys avoided by its misconduct. The settlement includes a recovery to the State for tax damages and applicable New York False Claims Act damages and penalties,” he said. The AG’s investigation also found that Infosys provided instructions to its employees on B-1 visas on how to deceive US consular officials and/or customs and border protection officers. “This conduct included creation of a ‘do’s and don’ts’ memorandum that was provided to Infosys employees entering the US and that explicitly instructed them to avoid talking about the work they were doing,” he added.

NY Man Stabs Cousin An Indian-origin man here was stabbed to death by his cousin following an argument, a media report said. Sharanjit Singh, 26, was stabbed in the chest by Lovedeep Singh, 24, at their home in New York City borough Queens. Lovedeep Singh confessed to the crime and said: “I’m guilty, I’m the one who killed him.” Lovedeep Singh was charged with seconddegree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, said the report. Sharanjit Singh, who worked as a driver, moved to the US in 2013. His parents live in Punjab

Three Held For March Killing Of Harnish Patel In S. Carolina New York: (IANS) Three men who allegedly wanted to “smash an Indian” have been arrested and charged in connection with the killing of an Indian man in South Carolina in March, which sent shockwaves across the Indian community in the US. Harnish Patel was shot dead outside his home in Lancaster on March 2, barely 10 days after the killing of an Indian engineer in Kansas state. The men arrested earlier this month have so far been charged only with conspiracy to commit robbery and not directly with the killing of Patel, as the investigations proceed, The Herald, a local newspaper based in Rock Hill, reported on Wednesday. The newspaper said Jaquinton Tradell Blair, LaJames Arteian Ross and Richard Stewart “had roles in the robbery and conspiracy” according to arrest warrants released by police. TV station WSCO quoted Lancaster Sheriff

Barry Faile as saying: “Although no one has yet been charged with the murder of Mr. Patel, our investigators continue to work this case hard. We are continuing to put information together and will not slow down until we are satisfied we have the whole story and have arrested the person or persons directly responsible for Mr. Patel’s death.” It is customary for law enforcement officials in the US to initially charge suspects with a lower crime and arrest them, while investigations continue to build a strong case required for conviction on a more serious charge. WSCO reported that Blair was arrested on June 6 and Stewart and Ross on June 8. But the arrests and the charges were officially made public only on Wednesday. Earlier, officials had reported difficulties in getting witnesses to the crime or anyone with knowledge of it to reach out the authorities. The three arrested men appear to be African

Americans in photos released by local law enforcement. The Herald said: “The warrants cite the words ‘smash an Indian,’ as used by the three people

arrested. The phrase is the first indication that the crime could possibly have been a hate crime.” But the newspaper reported that Doug Barfield, the spokesperson for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, refused to discuss the

motive for the crime, and said he was not aware of any hate crime investigation by federal authorities. Hate crimes are often prosecuted by federal officials. Patel was shot dead when he returned home after closing his Speedee Mart store located near the Sheriff’s office. Activists have tried to link the attacks on Indians to white supremacists and the election of President Donald Trump. Adam Purinton, who is accused of killing Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Olathe and wounding Alok Madasani and an American Ian Grillot, who came to their defence, while yelling at the Indians, “Get out of my country,” is white and has been charged by the Trump administration in a federal court with a hate crime. However, the men charged in connection with Patel’s killing appear to be from the African American community.

......... Books ........

July 2017


ne might call Roopa Pai the quintessen tial Bangalorean for liking everything about the city! How else does one explain her passion for leading history and heritage walks around her hometown with equanimity, amidst the more glaring problems of urbanization that the city has been facing? These days, however, she is better known as the person who gave the TEDx talk ‘Decoding the Gita, India’s Book of Answers’, for the talk has gone viral since it first went up on YouTube in March 2017. Born and brought up in Bangalore, Pai returned to the city with her family after several years of living abroad and in other Indian cities, to combine her passion for trails and tales into a job. She co-founded Bangalore Walks, the city’s first history and heritage walks and tours company, with her husband Arun Pai in 2005. She also continued to be involved with her freelance journalistic career, and with her primary love, writing for children. A computer engineer, Pai always knew that she wanted to become a writer of children’s books. Her first writing job at Target, a cult Indian children’s magazine of the 80s and 90s, only made her firmer in her resolve. Her three years there shaped her writing and gave her definite tools to become a children’s writer. Since then, she has authored several children’s books, spanning both fiction and non-fiction, and covering topics as diverse as popular science, mathematics, and, most recently, economics for children. Her work includes India’s first fantasy-adventure “Taranauts”, an eight part series published between 2009 and 2012. It was Pai’s love for Indian mythology and folklore that inspired the idea for the series. While Taranauts brought her critical acclaim (the first book in the series was shortlisted for the Crossword Award for Children’s Writing’ in 2009) and a huge measure of popular success with children, it was ‘The Gita For Children’, a contemporary retelling of the Bhagavad Gita presented as a how-to guide on ethical living, that became a runaway bestseller and catapulted her to national attention. It also won the Crossword Popular Award for Children’s Writing in


Fighting A War With Words Roopa Pai, children’s author and Bangalore city enthusiast talks to SUPRIYA D.G about her bestselling book ‘The Gita For Children’ and the relevance of the original text across time and borders. tween right and wrong, accept people who are different from themselves, and develop a strong sense of empathy.” The book, which has also been translated 2016. The Gita For Children was an outcome of serendipity and a long standing association with its editor Vatsala Kaul, who was also Pai’s mentor at Target. Pai grew up in a non-Brahmanical household with a regular diet of fables and parables, in part from oral traditions and from comics like the Amar Chitra Katha. She says, “I had no grounding in the Gita in childhood. My only brush with the Gita happened, oddly enough, at my Christian missionary school. Because I had a good memory, one of my teachers, a staunch believer in the Gita, chose me to recite selected passages at competitions. Some of that stayed with me.” It was the fact that Pai found Indian mythology and classical literature to be a fascinating subject that spurred her interest in eventually taking up the offer to write the book. Says Pai, “ “Writing non-fiction for children is about demystifying complex concepts in a fun, accessible way. Writing fiction, on the other hand, is about subtly bashing stereotypes, being nonjudgmental about characters, and not pushing one’s own beliefs and prejudices to the reader, One has to strike a fine balance, and stories have to be openended. That is how children learn to discern be-

into Hindi and Kannada, has found resonance among readers, both young and old, because the idea of narrating a conversation between two friends debating a moral crisis can be seen as very relevant to a world struggling to find its moral compass in a time of conflict and chaos. Pai meticulously transforms a classical text, which she calls the “distilled wisdom of the ages” into a conversation for and with children, seemingly from her own experiences as a mother! Pai quotes from several wellknown literary sources to support a universal world view that The Gita espouses. Pai’s version then is a combination of story and philosophy with relevant examples from today’s world. Revealing that she wanted to encourage the communal reading tradition, retain the beauty of

NRI PULSE 17 the classical language of the original verse, and continue to accord respect to the characters from the original text while contemporizing it for children, she says, “I did not want, for instance, to have Arjuna call Krishna ‘Dude’! I also knew that this would be the kind of book that children would not necessarily read alone.” In her acknowledgements, Pai credits the work of Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, (philosopher and India’s second President) ‘The Bhaagavadgita’ as a source of guidance and inspiration. Admittedly such pioneering work has attracted some criticism because The Gita is primarily viewed as a religious text and because Pai herself is not a religious authority and scholar. But Pai hasn’t taken it to heart. “This is my interpretation of the Gita,” she says. “By bringing myself to the text, the interpretation is necessarily subjective. But one of the messages of The Gita is that you cannot fight your nature, so I just went with the flow.” Pai laughs, quoting and clarifying both her style and approach to writing the book. The Gita as a work of collected wisdom through time is evidence of its dynamic appeal, perhaps leading even to acrimony at times, depending on who does the interpretation. Pai believes that it is also a subversive text. Referring to Lord Krishna’s edict, ‘If one offers me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or a little water, with devotion and a heart that is pure, I will accept that gift of love.’ (9-26)” , she says, “At a time when caste hierarchy and division between social classes was predominant (and it isn’t very different now!), these lines show that even people who had an inferior status, economically or otherwise, could be accepted as equal by God. It’s a great way to cut through the falsehoods that the people in power constantly tell the others, making them believe that they are the only ones with access to the Divine.” Pai admits that researching and writing the book has been a transformative experience especially because of the message “you cannot control the world.” Because we are talking about the book in the context of the way we see the world today, ravaged as it is by dissent and divide, Pai sees hope for the individual- at least by connecting to the values espoused in The Gita and preached by all religions.

A Fun Way To Keep Your Child Productive This Summer BY KRISTEN MOON Summer break is here. So is the Atlanta heat and humidity. If you are a parent wondering how you can help your child stay productive this summer, rest assured, I have solutions. Before I made the transition into college admissions, I was a SAT instructor and tutor. I noticed a similarity in students who received top scores. They were all strong readers. Reading is one of those things you can’t cram for. Strong readers start early and read often. Summer break is the perfect time to start a reading plan that will continue throughout the school year. Summer Reading Programs Summer reading programs help students address the issue of learning loss, which often occurs during the summer break as a result of being kept away from a learning environment for an extended period of time. Below are a few well-known programs to keep your child reading all summer long.

·The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program: The B&N Summer Reading Program is designed to reinforce learning, nurture skills and motivate students to extend their reading through the summer vacation. Participation is simple. Students pick the books they want to read and proceed at their own pace. The best part is that students earn a FREE book, simply by following three easy steps. 1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal. The journal can be downloaded from the B&N website. 2. Bring your completed journal to any B&N store by September 5, 2017. 3. Select your FREE book. The New York Times Summer Reading Con-

test: Since 2010, The New York Times has been encouraging teenagers to read more challenging pieces by adding the NYT to their reading lists. They make it super easy and free for students. has a digital subscription system in which readers have free access to 10 articles each month. Throughout the summer they host an international contest, where teenagers will be competing with other students from across the globe. The contest lasts ten weeks and it is held every Friday. This year it runs from June 16 - Aug 25. Here’s how to participate: 1. Every Friday, the NYT will publish a student opinion question asking the same two questions: What interested you most in the NYT this week? Why? 2. Any teenager, 13 to 19 years old, from

anywhere in the world can post an answer. 3. Contestants can choose from any NYT article, essay, video, or photograph published in 2017. 4. Every Tuesday, winners will be announced. 5. Winners will have their writings published on the New York Times blog. Ps, this link would be really nice to include on your college applications. UGA Reading Program The University of Georgia offers a Summer Reading Program at seventeen locations throughout Georgia. Everyone from 4-year-olds to 12th graders, college students, and adults are welcome to join. Schedules and enrollment details can be found on their website. Maintaining Consistency Consistency is key when it comes to fostering a strong reading foundation for your child. Continued on Pg 18.....

........Features ........

5K Run/Walk In DeSEPT 10 fense of Animals. Dogs welcome. Register online Every penny received goes to fund our animal welfare projects at IDA(In Defense of Animals). You can choose to either Run the 5K or Walk. Report @ 7 am on the Event day. Race and Walk starts at 8 am sharp.Only participants that register by 31st Aug are guaranteed their size of T-shirt. Rest will get a Large size T-shirt until stocks last. Well-behaved pets/dogs on leash are welcome and can participate for free! We will have an interesting Raffle with beautiful paintings and other items. Please remember to bring cash or check. $ 1 for 1 ticket, $ 5 for 6 tickets and $ 10 for 12 tickets. When: Sunday, September 10, 2017 Time: checkin 7am, race 8am. Where: 7765 St. Marlo Country Club Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097. Cost: $35. Register: duluth-ga/running/distance-running-races/run-indefense-of-animals-5k-2017 Contact: Sarita Raturi 678-469-2406

A Fun Way to Keep Your Child Productive This Summer Continued from Pg 17.....

Make reading fun by combining it with a family activity. Family movie night is a great way to keep up the momentum with reading while having quality family time together. Each month introduce a classic novel to your child. Set a schedule and have them read one chapter a day throughout the summer. When they finish the book, plan a movie night and bring the classics to life. Turn this into a great family time together, with popcorn, soda, and pizza. The objective is to let your child know you are proud of them for finishing the classic novel. Praise goes a long way. The point is to make it fun so that your child will keep reading. Here are a few of my favorite classics that have been made into movies: The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925 Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, 1936 Les Misérables, Victor Hugo, 1862

Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray, 1848 Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen, 1813 Remember, when it comes to reading, consistency is the secret. Starting your children on a reading plan and encouraging them to read often, will lay a strong academic foundation. This will aide your child not just on the SAT/ACT, but also throughout college. About the author: Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of She specializes in Ivy League, BS/MD Programs, and International Students. She works with students from 9-12th grade.

SuDoku Challenge Rules: 1.The 3 x 3 sub grids are called regions 2.Numbers already filled in the grid are called givens 3.The goal of the player is to fill the blank grids of · Every row · Every column and · Every 3 x 3 box · With the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 However: All rows and columns and regions (3 x 3) should contain numbers 1 to 9 without being repeated.

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Legendary Pandit JULY 30 Jasraj Live in Atlanta Hosted by Sangeetayan When: Sunday, July 30, 2017 3pm-6pm Where: Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 Contact: 404 936 2254

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Sadhu Vaswani Center JULY 23 Atlanta is Honored to Invite You and Your loved ones to Dada J. P. Vaswani’s 99th Birthday Celebrations Aao Jyoth Jagaein- Come, let’s kindle Light When: July 23, 2017 4 pm onwards Where: Impact Hall, Global Mall - 5675 Jimmy Carter Blvd


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Swami JULY 10-12 Adhyatmanandaji lecture series Tips to lower tension & stress - Monday Power of communication - Tuesday Learnings from Indian scriptures - Wednesday When: Monday - Wednesday, July 10-11-12, 2017 at 6:30 pm Where: Global Mall, Suite 710 (upstairs), 5675 Jimmy Carter Blvd, Norcross, GA 30071 Contact: 404-822-3653 Also more lectures in Atlanta. Contact Ravi Ponangi 404-644-7521

Followed by dinner Program is free but RSVP @ 404-840-6662 678 462-7456

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Asian Americans JULY 8 Advancing Justice Atlanta will host a Free Citizenship Clinic As a U.S. citizen, you will: —have the right to vote and run for office —be protected from deportation —have priority in sponsoring family members to immigrate to the U.S. When: Saturday, July 8, 2017 from 10am-1pm Where: Masjid Omar Bin Abdul Aziz, 955 Harbins Rd NW, Lilburn, Georgia 30047 Register: Appointments are given priority. Make an appointment! Contact: 404-890-5655

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incident happened at an Indian wedding. A man broke up with his girlfriend and went off to You know that movie where someone jumps marry someone else. The annoyed girlfriend out of a building and lands safely on a passing turned up at his wedding with a gun and took truck? I think it was called Pretty Much Every him away. Police thought it was so movie-like Movie Ever. that it must have been staged. Well, a reader sent me a link to that exact Example: At a recent wedding in Uttar Pradesh, clip — only it was a real-life news report. A the bride refused to marry the groom after discoverbuilding in Hebei, in the north of China, was ing that he’d provided a meat-free banquet. She inablaze, and several people stead married a man from jumped out of high winTHE FUNNY SIDE among the wedding guests. dows on to a truck filed Reports of brides with vegetables, escaping marrying wedding guests are completely unharmed. not uncommon in India, and it Next time you’ve finished puzzles me that ANY single work and the lifts going down are men dare to attend such cerfull, check the passing traffic. Peremonies. haps the Uber people could proSeveral times a year, young vide options. “I’d like to order a men must come home and have truck of vegetables outside my the following conversation. building at 5.30, please.” “Certainly, MOM: “How was your sir, cabbage or lettuce?” roommate’s wedding?” SON: This correspondent has noticed that “life- “The usual. By the way, meet my wife, Aditi.” is-a-movie” items usually appear in batches, as Two people in the US state of Washington if Destiny decides to recycle old film storylines discovered that they were born on the same day of for a while. the same month of the same year in the same town The same day a reader sent me a link to — and eventually learned they were twins. Yes, it’s another news video of real life imitating art: A the exact plot of the hit movie “The Parent Trap”. beaver was seen guiding a herd of 150 cows in But that’s about two young girls. If Destiny is reading this, can I put in a Canada. Perhaps the beaver had actually seen the movie Babe, about a pig doing the work of a request for the movie “Almost Famous” to sheepdog, and wanted to try it himself. Beavers come true? In that film, the beautiful Kate are smaller than pigs and cows are bigger than Hudson falls in love with a not-very-good, notvery-famous journalist. sheep, so real life beats the movie. Real-life Kate, whoever you are, I’m here. A third example arrived a day later. This


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I Manini Sandeep Killedar Killedar W/O Sandeep Krishna Killedar R/O of 1840 Brushfoot Trl Suwanee GA 30024 shall henceforth be known as Manini Sandeep Killedar sworn before notary Cheryl Schlatmann Gwinnett County Georgia.

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Recent Examples Which Show Real Life Is Imitating The Movies

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NRI Pulse Online Magazine The Complete Portal for NRIs News, Views, Blogs, Features, Perspectives, Debates, Community Profiles, Immigration, Health, Business, Youth, Fashion, Entertainment, Bollywood, Cookery, Free Classifieds and more...

July 2017

..... Tribute to Atlanta Naari .....


Dr Paddy Sharma: Educationist At Heart; Rotarian In Spirit


DIVYA DESAI’S photographic ode to Atlanta women.

r. Sharma, a well-known personality in Atlanta, comes from a family of educationists. Dr. Sharma holds a Doctorate degree in Psychology. An avid supporter of education, Dr. Sharma is a Trustee on the Board of Clayton State University Foundation. She was chairperson of the Psychology Department at Tennessee Temple University.

They are mothers and wives, sisters and daughters. They are successful professionals and strong role models. They lead with their hearts and give back to the community. Let us salute the ‘heroes’of our community! Photography and Concept: Divya Desai Make up: Kripa Bhatt Hair Stylist: Tina Cash

In 2001, Dr. Sharma incorporated a company to identify and select from across the globe, highly skilled teachers to provide quality education in critical subject areas across the United States of America. These teachers, who are from many different countries enrich the school children’s knowledge not only in academics but also in various cultures. Dr. Sharma’s organization also helps these

teachers to be part of the high quality educational system in America and bring their rich knowledge back to their countries’ schools. Dr. Sharma believes that education is the key to success for all children and to make children commit to education, Dr. Sharma along with her husband Dr. Chandler Sharma founded the FI HI (Finish High School) Hope Foundation, a support system that offers monetary and tutorial help to encourage students, who are on the verge of drop-

ping out, to complete their high school education. She is currently working on promoting STEM education across the developing countries. She is also a founder member and trustee of a STEM model school in India. As a multi-faceted person, Dr. Sharma has held several other significant positions such as: Chairman of Board of Directors in IACA, Trustee of Sanatan Mandir and Trustee of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta. Her Data Point Systems Inc., was chosen as the recipient of the Georgia Minority Business Technology Industry award. A true Rotarian, Dr. Sharma is a past President of Rotary Club of Lake Spivey, Clayton County and Founder President of Emory Druid Hills Club. With a notion of “Service above Self”, she has organized several medical camps and other relief camps in India and Nepal. Her recent charity activities include promoting construction of restrooms for schools in areas where students are forced to discontinue their education because of lack of restrooms; providing transportation vans to hospitals to carry the deceased, where they are now being carried either manually or by hand carts. As a member of many non-profit organizations; Dr. Sharma’s philanthropic and welfare activities have touched many lives across the world. Her business and social commitment and dedication was recognized when the proclamation of “Outstanding Georgia Citizen” was presented by the Secretary of State of Georgia in 2009. Dr. Sharma thrives on helping the community and inspires others to make positive changes in the lives of people around them.

..... Bollywood Pulse .....


I Am What I Am Because Of My Mother: Sridevi

Actress Sridevi credits her upbringing and her mother for her successful career and everything that she has achieved so far. Asked about her relationship with her mother (Rajeswari), ahead of the release of her film “Mom”, Sridevi said she credits her successful life to her mother. “Everything I’m today and whatever I have achieved, it’s because of my mother. She played a crucial role in my successful career. Even if I teach 50 per cent of what my mother taught me to my daughters, I’ll be really happy,” Sridevi told IANS. In the Ravi Udyawar-directed “Mom”, Sridevi plays the mother of a teenaged daughter. Talking about the film, she said its story “touched and moved” her. She also said being a mother helped her to understand the character better. “It will be an important film for all mothers and their teenage daughters,” she said.

Bollywood Stars Invited To Join Oscar Academy Los Angeles: (IANS) Actors Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone, apart from directors like Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose are among the Indians invited to be a part of the Oscar Academy’s ‘Class of 2017’. “We’re proud to invite our newest class to the Academy. The entire motion picture community is what we make of it,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, was quoted as saying on the official Oscar website. “It’s up to all of us to ensure that new faces and voices are seen and heard, and to take a shot on the next generation the way someone took a shot on each of us,” Isaacs added. There are 774 new members from 57 countries — a record-breaking number. The Oscar Academy has noted not just a 359 per cent increase in women invited to join the Academy from 2015-2017, but also a marked rise in people of color invited — signifying the diversity it was embracing.

From India, there are also actors Irrfan Khan and Salman Khan, Indian costume designer Arjun Bhasin, directors and writers like Anand Patwardhan and Sooni Taraporevala.

Even India-born Mohit Kallianpur and Mahesh Ramasubramanian, who have worked in animation and visual effects of Hollywood films

like “Frozen” and “Shrek” respectively, are a part of the exhaustive list. Among other international high-profile actors newly invited to the Academy are “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, “Moonlight” Oscar nominee Naomie Harris, Donald Glover, Chris Hemsworth, Riz Ahmed, Adam Driver, Dwayne Johnson, Leslie Jones, Betty White, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Margot Robbie, Channing Tatum, Kristen Stewart, Shailene Woodley, Ruth Negga, and Rupert Grint. Directors include Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, David Ayer, Theodore Melfi and the Russo brothers. The new members invited are part of seven branches — actors, casting directors, costume designers, designers, documentary, executives and film editors.

Baahubali May Save Bollywood From Its Mindless Exertions BY PRASHANT PANDEY There is a scene in Richard Attenboroughs film “Gandhi” where Shriram Lagoo playing Gopal Krishna Gokhale prevails upon the South Africareturned barrister Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi (played by Ben Kingsley) to travel all over India. As an astute observer, Gokhale’s character knows that Gandhi has both the product as well as the potential to recreate the South Africa magic in India. He just needs to understand the pulse of the people. Gandhi takes the plunge, and eventually, the Kathiawadi barrister becomes the Father of the nation. Something similar happened in the Indian movie industry recently. One of the sharpest minds of the movie business, Karan Johar not only did a Gokhale on S.S. Rajamouli but also became his partner to land “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” into theatres as a Hindi release. Suddenly, Rajamouli has become the savior that the Indian film industry needs and deserves. The whirring rhythms of the “Baahubali” juggernaut has cast an envelope of dust over Bollywood which is getting trolled, again. Was this expected? No one knows. Seeing parallels between films and politics, a film producer friend compared Amarendra Baahubali’s thunder at box office to Narendra Bahubali’s might in the recently

concluded Uttar Pradesh elections. Sociologists are anyways calling it Hindu cinema. A movie which is been in making since 1,000 years brought to the earth by the personae of an ever-smiling, humble, idealistic filmmaker cast in the mould of Bhagirath. These sort of optics are too much for Bollywood to handle. Apart from the PR launch-pad,


July 2017


the most beautiful and best thing about “Baahubali 2” is that it is actually a great film, unlike umpteen big budget Bollywood films which are watched by all but liked by none.Pursuant to this experience, a new narrative has emerged. Bollywood suddenly seems like the evil underserving uncle Bhallaladeva, who has enjoyed the fruits of privilege and power which Baahubali is all set to overthrow. It’s merely incidental that Prabhas’s nickname down south is Rebel Star. The gist of coffee house conversations in Versova, the film hub in Mumbai, is a confusion between fight and flight. Rightly so, the liberal and very articulate left wing elitist posturing (matched by right wing posturing) which Bollywood employs to wash its poor filmmaking sins, or as a diversion tactics for its own exploitative practices, has been cracking under the weight of box office numbers of this Dravidian assault. Actor Neha Dhupia once summed up the movie business in Bollywood by saying, “Only Shah Rukh and sex sells.” She has been corrected — it’s Shah Rukh, sex and VFX (visual effects).

However, it will be wrong to dismiss “Baahubali” films just as a VFX shindig. “Baahubali” works because of strong story-telling and shockingly strong characters who are totally unapologetic about their motivations in an unadulterated dose of Tretayuga (Ramayana) and Dwaparyug (Mahabharata) in a two-hour span. “Baahubali” movies are set to bring more focus and integration in the movie business in India. These also made us aware of the power of the medium in the hands of an uncompromising filmmaker. In fact, when I saw “Makkhi” (“Eega”), I knew this fly was headed to set Bollywood-ki-Lanka on fire. So how will Baahubali impact masala Bollywood? In the same way as it will impact masala Tollywood or Kollywood, or any film industry missing the wood for the trees. However, to be more specific, I strongly expect more Hindi films on: Mythological subjects; revivalist Hindu historicals (without beef, horse-meat, and ox meat, of course) and military-based jingoistic films. Also expected is a matured reaction to “Baahubali” films — films that package and celebrate modern India’s civil society dealing with complex legal and constitutional framework and concept of justice. Problem is that Bollywood is obsessed about fighting about freedom of expression but it has nothing new to express both in form and content. So much so that biopics on India’s two biggest icons — Gandhi and Sachin — have been made by foreigners. So if you can’t tell your own story, someone else will. I faced this problem when I was pitching my film “Poorna” to producers in Mumbai. They found the subject too “Madrasi”. Hopefully, with the “Baahubali” twins having toured the Hindi heartland, Bollywood will be less racist and less condescending, even in its praise of South Indian film icons or narratives.

July 2017

........ Indians of Atlanta ........


#IndiansOfAtlanta is our attempt at building an archive of local Indian-American stories, one story at a time. Help us popularize this feature by sharing our Facebook page ( If you have a unique, inspirational story that you’d like to share with the world, write us at editor@ with ‘Indians of Atlanta’ in the subject line.

Indira Suvedi: From Refugee Camp To Emory Nursing Degree “I came to America as a refugee eight years ago, with a dream. I wanted to succeed in life. I was born in a middle-class family in Bhutan. When I was a baby, my family, along with a hundred thousand other people, was forced to flee the country due to “ethnic cleansing” of our minority group by the repressive Bhutanese government. I lived in a refugee camp for 17 years. Life in the refugee camp was terrible. Eating a single meal each day; trying to shut out the elements by adjusting the plastic roof of our hut on rainy and windy days; going barefooted to an openair school under the shade of trees; carrying a floor mat and a few notebooks into the nearby forest to study in the shade. There was no electricity or artificial light at night, so we had to use daylight to study. People in the camps were deprived of medical facilities, malnourished, and often victims of abuse, rape or disease. There was nothing I could do for these people except watch them suffer and cry with them. Since then, I have wanted to help the helpless and be the voice for the voiceless by achieving higher education. But as a refugee, my dreams seemed far-fetched. Fortunately, my family got the chance to come to America, which was life changing. We were so happy to land in the land of opportunity and ful-

fill our dreams. Although we faced challenges with the new culture, place and language, we did well in establishing a foundation here. Then, once again in 2013, our family was struck by loss. One of my brothers, Pritam, passed away due to a rare form of cancer. My final few days with my brother at the Grady Hospital ICU were life changing. I felt the need to become an Oncology nurse and touch the hearts of patients, family members and loved ones by providing compassionate care. In 2015 I got accepted to Emory University’s

School of Nursing, which is one of the top prestigious nursing schools in the States. It was the

happiest moment of my life. Without a penny in my pocket, I started my Nursing School, where I was a Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP) Scholar. Even with all these personal and financial challenges, I finished my degree. I accepted the position as New Graduate Nurse at Atlanta VA Medical in their Oncology/Hematology unit. I hope to serve veterans, vulnerable people and people in need like I always wanted to.” – Indira Suvedi Eight years after arriving in Atlanta, Indira Suvedi graduated from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In the future, she wants to become a global health nurse and help vulnerable people around the world. She credits the IndianAmerican community of Georgia for helping Bhutanese refugees set up a new life in the US.

........ What’s Cooking? ........



1 cup almonds with skin or without the skin 1/2 cup milk 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

in a blender until it becomes thick paste. Remove the almond paste from the blender in to a thick non-stick pan and mix with sugar. Place the pan on the stove on medium heat. Stir continuously with a heat proof spatula until the almond mixture becomes thick. Add little ghee in between until all the ghee is finished. Mix cardamom seeds powder and saffron (if using). Spread almond barfi in a greased plate. Cut in to desired shapes when barfi is cold.

½ teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds ¼ teaspoon saffron threads soaked in teaspoon of milk (optional) Soak almonds in cold water for an hour. Boil 2 cups water in a small sauce pan and add almonds. Boil them for a minute. Remove almonds from hot water and put them in ice water. Take one almond at a time in between your thumb and index finger and squeeze it to remove the skin. Repeat with rest of the almonds. You can eliminate this process if you are using almonds without skin. Blend almonds with milk

Cottage Cheese Fritters 1 cup cottage cheese 1½ cups water 2 cups all purpose flour ½ cup rice flour 1/8 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt or to taste 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 tablespoons finely chopped green chilies 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger ½ cup finely chopped onions 2 cups oil for frying

July 2017 Cover the batter and set it aside for 15 minutes. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Take a hand full of batter and drop marble size balls into the oil. Fry until light brown and crispy on all sides. Remove cottage cheese fritters from oil with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate. Serve with any chutney or sauce. Makes 8 servings.

For more recipes from P.S Lakshmi Rao, visit the ‘What’s Cooking’ section on our website

Blend cottage cheese and water in a blender. In a medium bowl combine allpurpose flour, rice flour, baking soda, salt, cumin seeds, green chilies, ginger, onions and cottage cheese and mix thoroughly.

........ InVogue .......

Dress For Comfort At The Indian Summer Wedding

BY RANI SHARMA Summer is in full bloom! There is nothing prettier, more colorful or utterly enjoyable than an Indian wedding in summer time Indian summer wedding and the cream color are a coupling made in comfort heaven. The neutral color makes a fantastic base for all sorts of color combinations. Indian designers have always loved the hue, embracing it repeatedly for spring/summer collections. The current obsession is for cream colored selfembroidered lucknowi and chikankari fabrics that provide all the flare required of an Indian summer wedding outfit without the heavy bogged down feeling of actual embellishment.

For more info, call me at 404-6334966 or visit Raneez Fine Boutique in Decatur. Solid colors are not only slimming but also statement making enough to do away with unnecessary bling that only adds to upping the discomfort factor, while light fabrics are a god sent for days when you have no choice . There is always a risk of going down the too

casual, not dressy enough route when it comes to such outfits so it’s best to proceed with caution when making your selection . Lucknowi lehngas in pastel colors, cream banarsi with light resham work, light glitter work blouse and net dupatta with four side edging trim

border, off-white net cream sari with gota work, light trim piping on all four sides is very comfortable to wear at a summer wedding. Makeup & Accessories: Very light makeup. Comfortable sandals and fabric purse that matches your outfit.

NRI Pulse July 2017 Print Issue  

11th Anniversary Issue!!

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