The feminist narrative sees the buffalo-demon as the symbol of the male ego, the patriarch, who is overpowered by the female power. This makes Durga a symbol of women’s liberation movement, though Kali is even more preferred as Kali is visualised as naked and wild, untamed by the male gaze, while Durga seems more domesticated, with her bridal finery. In many folk narratives, the village-goddess kills her own husband who has cheated her or betrayed her. And so, the violence is associated with a kind of sexual tension and betrayal of the feminine. This visualisation of the demon as husband as well as antagonist is downplayed in patriarchal versions of the story, though the Skanda Purana and the Arunchala Shthala Purana do speak of Durga finding the Shiva-linga in the throat of Mahisasura after she beheads him. She performs penance to cleanse her of the ‘sin’ of killing a devotee of Shiva, or, some say, a form of Shiva. In Tamil Nadu, there is a temple associated with both, the spot of her ritual cleansing and the site where the Shiva-linga is worshipped.
Then comes the subaltern narrative where Mahisasura is a leader of dark-skinned races, much like Ravana and Bali, who is defeated by the fair-skinned Durga, just as the other leaders were defeated by Ram and Vaman, seen as fair, upper caste and North Indian. It ignores the historical theory that Durga was probably originally a tribal goddess from the Vindhya region who was included later into the Brahminical fold as Vishnu’s sister and Shiva’s wife, or the symbolic theory that sacrifice of husband/devotee/antagonist embodies the tension between humans and nature, for humans (embodied as male) domesticate nature to create culture (visualised as the wife). This narrative has prompted the Mahishasura Martyrdom Day that voices the rage of communities that have been marginalised, only to rile up extremist Hindus who cannot handle pluralism.
(From : devdutt.com. Sketch by author himself)