A 12th century image from Dakshin Muhammadpur in erstwhile Comilla in eastern Bengal shows Ganesha and Kartikeya along with the devi, but the daughters are not there. Historians like RD Bandyopadhyay, NK Bhattasali, JN Banerjea, S K Saraswati and Enamul Haque tried their best, but could not locate a single ancient sculpture of Durga with all her four children. We find this ‘Durga with full family’ theme, however, in the powerful folk literature of medieval Bengal — called the Chandi Mangal Kavyas.
The second reason was that Kali was already installed as the ‘mother’ in Bengal since the 8th century because of its strong Tantric tradition. This protective mother could terrify all those who threatened her children. Durga was popularised later, from the 17th and 18th centuries, by the zamindar class for agricultural prosperity and to display their pomp and power — in late Mughal and post Mughal Bengal.
As the ‘mother slot’ was occupied by Kali, Durga was fitted in as the ‘daughter’ of the Bengali Hindus. She visited her parents, Giriraj and Menaka, just for four days a year when they poured all their love on their darling daughter, Uma. It made more sense for Durga/ Uma to take her young children to her parents’s home, as she would not leave them alone.
Thus, Bengal transformed the belligerent goddess into a loving daughter that everyone simply dotes over — by feasting on as many types of fish, delicious meat and mind-boggling varieties of sweets as possible. Yet, to be recognised as Devi Durga, she needed her motifs and had to be fully armed and in battle regalia, riding her lion, even on a sentimental visit home.