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As the music reaches its crescendo so do the brush strokes and before you realize there’s canvas of colours before your eyes! That is Vilas Nayak, who has been painting the world, well literally! Vilas is a self taught artist from Bangalore, India who quit his corporate job to follow his passion for art. He has performed in some of the most prestigious stages– the United Nations General Assembly in New York and Geneva, NBA half time shows for the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers, the Formula One Award Ceremony at the Louvre in Paris, Asia’s Got Talent, India’s Got Talent, Got Talent World Stage Live and many more events in over 35 countries. His incredible talent to create live art works in just minutes has brought him accolades from His Holiness The Dalai Lama; football legend Pele; former Indian President, Dr. Abdul Kalam; former Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee; Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi; Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Shinzo Abe; and many more. Follow Vilas on Facebook and Instagram and be sure to tune in for his Diwali SA special!
Vijaya Botla is a registered and licensed dietitian and the owner of Alamo Nutrition Consultants. She has been practicing for over 10 years in San Antonio and enjoys showing her clients that developing a healthy lifestyle can be a positive and rewarding experience. Vijaya is also very active in promoting health and wellness in the community and has been involved with such initiatives as the Be Fit Be Cool Childhood Obesity Prevention Program, Walk with a Doc and is a member of the Mayor’s Fitness Council. She loves to volunteer her time and was instrumental in creating a youth leadership and volunteer program called TIPS JVP here in San Antonio. Vijaya is proud to have been active with DiwaliSA and AnujaSA since their inception. In her spare time Vijaya loves to travel, run, bake, and spend time with her husband and 3 adult children.
Dr. Vidhya Illuri is an adult endocrinologist at the Texas Diabetes Institute in San Antonio. Her practice is primarily focused on diabetes management and weight loss. Dr. Illuri completed her internal medicine training at Loyola University and her endocrinology fellowship at Northwestern University. In addition to practicing medicine, she loves to experiment in the kitchen and has started a healthy recipe blog! Find her on Instagram and Facebook. She also wrote and illustrated a children’s cookbook “Can I have a Treat?” This features 10 low sugar recipes for the youngest chef!
Dance has been at the heart of Usha’s personal and professional life for many years. Usha has 10 years of experience as a certified Zumba instructor, working at GOLDS Gym and LA Fitness and leading demonstrations at local Indian community events as well as Diwali SA. Usha also pursues Bharatanatyam, classical Indian dance, under her Guru, Dr. Sreedhara Akkihebbalu of Kaveri Natya Yoga, where Usha also serves as a co-teacher. Usha frequently coordinates and performs lecture demonstrations, pro bono, in the San Antonio and Austing areas, making dance accessible to wider audiences, while exploring her love for choreography.
Swati Jain is a self-taught henna artist with more than 15 years of professional experience. Being born in a Marwari family, learning and creating Henna is an integral part of her culture, giving her the best practical experience. What started as a hobby at a young age has blossomed into a full-time passion for Swati and the pursuit of this passion bought the brand Henna Art San Antonio. She specializes in various forms of designs like traditional Indian, Arabic, bridal, henna crowns, belly blessing or simple tattoo. She is known for creative and customized bridal designs. She strongly advocates the use of only natural henna. Her henna paste is made with 100% natural henna powder, lemon juice and essential oils. For pictures of her work, you can visit her Facebook page Henna Art San Antonio.
Suhail Arastu works in Institutional Advancement for Musical Bridges Around the World, a non-profit performing arts company charged to unite, educate and inspire through culturally diverse visual and performing arts. He has served as a Trustee of The Mind Science Foundation, on the Board of Directors of Gemini Ink and is the Arts & Culture Chair for Anuja SA. Suhail is the Mayor’s appointee to the Public Art Commission and enjoys serving on the Board of Directors of Constitution Cafe & The Lone Star Art Alliance. He was elected to the 40th Class of Leadership San Antonio and completed a Marshall Memorial Fellowship in Spring of 2018; in August of the same year he was appointed to serve on the Board of Sister Cities International. Suhail was named 40 Under 40 by the Business Journal in 2020. He leads Yoga privately and at Yoga in Motion while serving on the Advisory Council of International Yoga Day – a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. A collection of Suhail’s photographs from seven continents was shown at PechaKucha Volume 5.
Lisa began practicing yoga 25 years ago as a traveling photographer based in NYC looking to find a way to exercise while on the road. She was not only hooked after her first class, but Lisa found that a regular practice kept her strong and agile for a physically demanding job and most importantly made her feel emotionally grounded. After years of practice, in 2006, Lisa received teacher certification in Jivamukti Vinyasa Yoga, and has been teaching for the past 14 years in both group and private settings. She believes in the human capacity to evolve, to grow and to make the world a better place – even if it’s simply through starting with our own revitalized presence.
Lakha’s interest in music began as a high school student when he took on the challenge of creating a music mix for his Bhangra dance team. He embraced the process of materializing artistic concepts through music, by blending technical skills with musical knowledge. Initially, Lakha only shared his passion at family gatherings, but with his first vinyl turntables, and confidence built from mixing music in his bedroom, he began his career in music as DJ Lakha. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram!
Dr. Hetal Nayak is an anesthesiologist by training and has been practicing and teaching yoga for the last 12 years. Though she has trained under several yoga masters in different styles of yoga, her personal practice is Ashtanga Yoga of Mysore. Hetal is a spiritual seeker who continues to study philosophy with Niloofer ji from India, and has been initiated on the path of Kriya Yoga by her Guru Swami Vidyadhishananda. Passionate about serving the community, Hetal is the chapter coordinator for Sewa international San Antonio, a founding member and organizing committee member for Idoyoga, and is the program director for the AUM school Yog Sadhana program that brings Quality Yoga teacher training courses to the San Antonio community.
Dr. Arti Thangudu is a triple board-certified MD in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, internal medicine and lifestyle medicine. She is also certified in plant-based nutrition. She started the first direct care endocrinology practice in San Antonio, called Complete Medicine, where she uses a patient-centered approach to prevent, treat and reverse chronic diseases. Dr. Thangudu received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, MD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, internship from Baylor College of Medicine, residency from Tulane University and fellowship from The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Akash is a cocktail enthusiast and has been honing his craft through his cocktail and culinary history blog, Cykochef.com! Born in India, raised in New Jersey and now a transplant to Los Angeles, he truly believes that food and drinks are vehicles that connect us and bring the world together, one ingredient at a time. By day he’s a streaming television professional, but he genuinely enjoys entertaining, whether it’s behind the DJ Booth or behind the bar. Over the last few months, Akash has taken to hosting virtual cocktail classes and sharing his passion for mixology. Follow Akash on Facebook and Instagram, and come join us for a libation!