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Did Sri Lankan woman pray at Sabarimala? She denies

Did Sri Lankan woman pray at Sabarimala? She denies

Sabarimala (Ker): A 47-year-old Sri Lankan woman, who is said to have prayed at the Sabarimala temple on Thursday night, said on Friday that she was denied a 'darshan' by the police.

While TV channels showed a woman having 'darshan', a furious Sasikala vehemently denied this had happened.

"I was not allowed darshan by the police and I was sent away," Sasikala told the media.

Her husband, identified as Sharavanan, said it was only he who prayed at the temple, not his wife.

State Devasom (Temple) Minister Kadakampally Surendran said: "We need not find out if she had darshan or not. The government does not need to know. Women are free to pray. How can we stop women from praying at the temple?"

The TV visuals, however, show a woman moving to have 'darshan' but with a different holy kit compared to the one Sasikala was carrying when she spoke to the media.

Before dawn on Wednesday, two Kerala women in the hitherto banned age group (10-50) prayed at the temple, leading to violent protests from those opposed to women's entry into the shrine.

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.

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