Durga, also known as Devi, Shakti and by numerous other names, is a principal and popular form of Hindu goddess. She is the goddess, whose mythology centers around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity. She is the form of the protective mother goddess, willing to unleash her anger against wrong. Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a woman riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon. She appears in Indian texts as the wife of god Shiva and she is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. Estimated to have been composed between 400-600 CE, this text is considered by Shakta Hindus to be as important scripture as the Bhagavad Gita. She has a significant following all over India and in Nepal, particularly in its states such as West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam. Durga is revered after spring and autumn harvests, specially during the festival of Navaratri, the word Durga literally means impassable, inaccessible, invincible, unassailable. It is related to the word Durg which means fortress, something difficult to access, according to Monier Monier-Williams, Durga is derived from the roots dur and gam. According to Alain Daniélou, Durga means beyond reach. The word Durga, and related terms appear in the Vedic literature, such as in the Rigveda hymns 4.28,5.34,8.27,8.47,8.93 and 10.127, and in sections 10.1 and 12.4 of the Atharvaveda. A deity named Durgi appears in section 10.1.7 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka, while the Vedic literature uses the word Durga, the description therein lacks the legendary details about her that is found in later Hindu literature. The word is found in ancient post-Vedic Sanskrit texts such as in section 2.451 of the Mahabharata. These usages are in different contexts, for example, Durg is the name of an Asura who had become invincible to gods, and Durga is the goddess who intervenes and slays him. Durga and its derivatives are found in sections 4.1.99 and 6.3.63 of the Ashtadhyayi by Pāṇini, the ancient Sanskrit grammarian, and in the commentary of Nirukta by Yaska. Durga as a goddess was likely well established by the time the classic Hindu text called Devi Mahatmya was composed. There are many epithets for Durga in Shaktism and nine appellations, Skandamata, Kushmanda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Kaliputri, Chandraghanta and Siddhidatri. A list of 108 names that are used to describe her is very popularly in use by eastern Hindus and is called Ashtottara Shatanamavali of Goddess Durga
Durga Mahishasura-mardini, the slayer of the buffalo demon
Durga iconography at Prambanan temple (pre-Islamic Java, Indonesia).
Durga festival images (clockwise from top): Durga puja pandal in Kolkata, dancing on Vijayadashami, women smearing each other with color, and family get together for Dasain in Nepal.
Goddess Durga in Southeast Asia, from left: 7th/8th century Cambodia, 10/11th century Vietnam, 8th/9th century Indonesia.