Maharishi Markendeya gives a detailed account of the birth of Goddess Durga in ‘Durga Saptashati’. He narrates how after getting defeated by demon Mahishasura and his army, the hapless and tired demi-Gods led by Lord Bramha went to address their woes to Lord Vishnu and Shiva of the Holy trinity.
They explained how Mahishasura had snatched the rights of the Sun, Indra, Fire, Wind, Moon, Yama, Varun (rain) and other gods and has made the heavens his new home.
Now, the homeless demi-Gods roamed on earth like ordinary humans as they had nowhere to go. The demi-Gods spoke of how they were now counting on the Holy Trinity to save them from this misery. Listening to the anguish of the demi-Gods, the bearer of discus – Lord Vishnu – emitted a divine light. Similarly, Brahma, Shiva and Indra emanated divine light that combined to form a huge mountain of great energy.
The demi-gods were amazed at the flames of that energy being discharged in all the four directions. That mass of energy was unmatchable in the three worlds and in no time it got converted into a woman. Her face was formed as a result of Shiva’s divine light. Yamraj’s (God of death) divine energy gave her long, lustrous hair. Vishnu’s almighty energy formed her powerful arms. Her breasts were formed as a result of the Moon God’s power. Varun’s might made her thighs and calf muscles while the Earth formed her buttocks. Her feet were shaped when Bramha blessed her with his divinity and the Sun’s ability transformed into the fingers of her feet. The Vasus shaped the fingers of her hands and Kuber’s prowess patterned her nasal passage. Agni or the Fire God’s vigour translated in the three eyes of the devi, while Prajapati’s efficiency took the shape of her teeth. Thus, the great Goddess Durga came into being.
Now was the turn of every God to bestow her with divine gifts and weapons. In the process, Shiva gave away a trident to her while Vishnu gave her a discus similar to the one he possesses. Varun or the Rain God gave her a conch shell, the Fire God gave her power, the Wind God presented her with bow and arrows, Indra offered his thunderbolt and the bell taken off from the mighty Airawat elephant. Yamraj rendered kaldand, Varun gave a Pash (noose), Prajapati gifted her Sphatik (snow rock crystal) necklace and Bramha handed out a kamandalu (oblong water pot made of a dry gourd (pumpkin) or coconut shell, metal, wood of the Kamandalataru tree, or from clay, usually with a handle and sometimes with a spout.) The Sun God filled the pores of her skin with his life-giving rays and Kaal (time) gifted her shining sword and armour. The Ocean of Milk gifted her beautiful necklace of pearls, lovely finger rings, bangles, earrings, hair accessories and clothes that would remain resplendent.
Vishwakarma gave a Farsa, various other weapons and a garland made of forever fresh Lotus flowers. Jaldhi presented her with a beautiful Lotus flower. The King of mountains – Himalaya – gave her a Lion which became her vehicle, and also bestowed on her a number of rare gemstones. Kuber – the God of Wealth – offered the Great Goddess – a pot full of honey. And last but not the least, the Serpent King – Sheshnaag – gifted her naaghaar (serpent necklace) studded with precious gemstones. Such are the endowments of Durga.