King Janaka had declared that he will give Sita’s hand in marriage to one who will lift up Shiva’s bow and tie the string. Many princes came and tried but failed. According to folklore in Orissa, Jharkand and
Bihar, Ravana too arrived in Mithila and attempted to
lift the bow of Shiva.
Ravana was a huge figure and the people of Mithila were amazed by his physical appearance. They believed he would lift up the bow and marry Sita. Filled with pride, Ravana attempted to lift the bow of Shiva. He almost succeeded in lifting the bow. Ravana then looked around and smiled contemptuously. The smile caused his downfall; he lost his balance and fell down with the bow on top of him.
Soldiers attempted to pull out the demon king but they could. They attempted to lift the bow and they could not move it an inch.
Sita who was witnessing the event slowly walked up to Ravana and lifted the bow with one hand and placed it in its spot.
Ravana immediately walked out of the palace and disappeared into the sky.
The story of Ravana attempting to lift the bow of Shiva is not found in the Valmiki Ramayana. But it is found in the folk stories in Orissa, Jharkand and
dancers from the region narrate the story.