Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. She is worshiped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures.
The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of "Durga" is "Durgatinashini," which literally translates into "the one who eliminates sufferings." Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.
There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon "Mahishasur".
Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions. Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire/ ‘Iccha Shakti’ (the moon), the right eye represents action/ ‘Kriya Shakti’ (the sun) and the central eye knowledge/ ‘Jnana Shakti’ (fire).
The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion, symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego. Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of "Abhay Mudra", signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees: "Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears".