The Kerala police confirmed that a 46-year-old Sri Lankan woman offered prayers at the sanctum in Sabarimala Temple on late Thursday.
The police identified the woman as Sasikala, daughter of Asok Kumaran, who holds a Sri Lankan passport. Her passport gave her date of birth as December 3, 1972.
Officers said Ms. Sasikala had walked up the “18 Holy Steps” without any hindrance and offered her prayers at the sanctum. They said her relatives accompanied her. “She finished her darshan at around 9.30 p.m. and reached Pampa safely by 11 p.m," sources told The Hindu.
The police said the woman had booked her darshan time in advance. Ms Sasikala and her family had used the electronic queue system devised by the police and had sent her age-related records early.
A senior police officer said plainclothes officers, including women, gave Ms. Sasikala and her family covert security. The squads, however, did not make their presence or the security cover visible.
In the meantime, workers of the Sabarimala Karma Samathi (SKS), the right-wing outfit spearheading the protests against women of menstruating age entering the temple, have turned back a woman, identified as Deepa, midway at Marakootam on the 4 km uphill trek to Sabarimala Temple.
The police denied the allegation that Deepa’s arrival was a deliberate attempt to divert the attention of the protesters from Sasikala. The entry of Sasikala comes hard on the heels of the SKS imposing a general strike in Kerala to protest against the entry of two young women to the sanctum sanctorum early Wednesday. A plainclothes squad had controversially facilitated their entry through a pathway meant for Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) staff. However, the women had to skirt the “Holy Steps” to enter the sanctum.