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Amid Kerala protests, Sri Lankan woman reportedly entered Sabarimala temple

Jan 4 (AZINS) Confusion prevailed over the entry of a 46-year old Sri Lankan Tamil woman into the Lord Ayyappa temple here late Thursday night with the woman denying it and official sources claiming otherwise.

While the woman, Sasikala, said she was not allowed to undertake the trek to the shrine and sent back by the police, official sources told PTI that she entered the sanctum sanctorum and offered prayers.

Sasikala, who was accompanied by her husband, Saravanan, and son for darshan, told reporters at Pamba that she was not allowed to offer prayers at the temple.

Saravanan said only he and his son were able to offer worship at the temple on Thursday, the day when parts of Kerala witnessed violent protests over the entry of two women of menstruating age into the shrine.

Last night, some television channels aired visuals of the woman with "irumudikettu" (sacred offerings) and two policemen in mufti (plain clothes accompanying her.

On spotting the media, the policemen were seen scurrying away.

Sasikala claimed that at Marakootam, she was prevented by the police from proceeding further.

"There was no protest from devotees. But police sent me back. I am an Ayyappa devotee. They did not allow me to go to the shrine. I am not scared of anyone...," she told reporters on her return to Pamba, foothills of Sabarimala.

Sasikala claimed she had observed the 41-day "vratham" (penance).

"They did not allow me. Why did they not allow me? Why are you all standing around me now? I am not afraid of anyone. Ayyappa will answer you all. I am an Ayyappa devotee. I have not come here to act as others. You will come to know who I am," she said, visibly agitated.

On Friday, a transgender, Kayal, who arrived at Pamba at around 6 am, was turned away by the police and not allowed to go to the temple complex following protest from the devotees, the police said.

Kayal had come in a saree and later changed into men's clothing and tried to trek the holy hills with "irrumudikettu", they said.

Four transgenders had recently offered prayers at Sabarimala.