There are several backgrounds to this epic battle. According to one, Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight this demon named Mahishasura. Mahishasura initially started life as an ascetic who did considerable penance to win favour and boons from several Gods. They unwittingly gave him boons such as the ability not to be defeated by a male, not to be defeated on land and not at any time of the day or night [or something to that effect]. Virtually unbeatable, Mahishasura proceeded to then unleash a reign of terror on earth and the heavens. Without any other recourse, the gods created/summoned Durga, a wrathful incarnation of the Goddess Parvati, and combined their powers for her use. Because of the militant nature of her coming, Durga is always shown with blood shot eyes and riding a snarling lion or tiger.
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