Rochester woman hosts Navaratri, celebrating women and Indian goddesses

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(ABC 6 News) – A woman is bringing Indian culture to Rochester by hosting the festival Navaratri out of her home on Saturday.

Navaratri is a nine-day festival honoring goddesses in India, especially the goddess Durga.

“Traditionally the story goes that there was a demon and nobody could fight him, nobody could destroy him. All the gods tried, they couldn’t, then they came to the goddess then she fought him, a battle of nine days and she won and she killed that demon,” said festival hostess Usha Asirvathan.

The festival is also a way to celebrate women and female empowerment.

“We kind of believe that the whole energy for the whole universe comes from female, feminine things,” said Usha.

Usha has lived in Rochester for almost 25 years and has been hosting Navaratri since her daughter, Roshini, was born.

“I don’t think I even understood until I got a little bit older how unique it was to have such a huge display and such commitment to honoring the festival,” said Roshini.

The festival is a chance to teach children about the stories and history of the culture.

“This god named Krishna, who’s just kind of known for being kind of a rascal, kind of misbehaving, and it was always really fun when we were kids to learn about this god who was a kid who would never listen to his parents,” said Roshini.

Usha invites women and girls in the community every year to celebrate, give gifts, and display their talents and handiwork.

“A lot of people who come actually, not Indians spend a lot more time here learning about it and looking through, asking questions, so it is a good way of exchanging ideas,” said Usha.

Usha is happy to bring her culture to Rochester and share it with many who may not otherwise know their stories.