Officials claimed a 47-year-old Sri Lankan woman prayed inside the Ayyappa temple Thursday night, as Kerala continued to witness stray incidents of violence, including hurling of crude bombs at various places on Friday over the entry of two young women at the hill shrine.
Sources in the Chief Minister's Office and police confirmed that the Lankan woman did indeed enter the shrine and offered prayers.
There was confusion over whether the woman, Sasikala, succeeded in offering prayers at the temple late Thursday night as she had claimed this morning that police had turned her away even though there were no protests from devotees.
Official sources told PTI that the woman did enter the sanctum sanctorum.
CCTV visuals of Sasikala's visit were also released by police later.
However, it is not clear if she climbed the "padinettampadi" (holy 18 steps) to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
Kannur IG Balram Kumar Upadhyay, in-charge of the Sannidhanam (temple complex), could not be contacted.
Sasikala, who came with her husband Saravanan and son for darshan, had told reporters at Pamba this morning that she was not allowed to offer prayers at the temple, which had witnessed frenzied protests from devotees over the entry of two women, in their forties, Wednesday.
Saravanan also maintained that only he and his son were able to worship at the temple.
Some television channels had last night aired visuals of the woman with "irumudikettu" (sacred offerings) and two plainclothes policemen accompanying them. On spotting the media, the policemen were seen scurrying away.
"There was no protest from devotees. But police sent me back. I am an Ayyappa bhakata (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, the foothills of Sabarimala.
A visibly agitated Sasikala said 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. You will come to know who I am," she said.
According to official sources, due to security reasons Sasikala might have said she could not offer prayers.
Meanwhile, a transgender named Kayal, who arrived at Pamba around 6 am Friday, was turned away and not allowed by the police to go to the temple complex following protest from the devotees.
Kayal had come in a saree and later changed to men's clothing and tried to trek the hills with the "irrumudikettu".
Four transgenders had recently offered prayers at Sabarimala wearing black sarees.
Since the LDF government decided to implement the Supreme Court verdict allowing women of all age groups to enter the holy shrine, the temple complex has witnessed fierce protests from right outfits, BJP and RSS workers.
Traditionally women in the 10-50 age group are not allowed to enter the temple.