Indian Hindu devotees of the deity Ayyappa stage a protest against the Kerala state government, over the entry of two women at the Sabarimala temple, in Bangalore on January 3, 2019. - Clashes erupted between Hindu hardliners and police in the southern state of Kerala for a second day January 3, after two women defied traditionalists to enter one of India's holiest temples. (Photo: MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Police officials in southern India have said that a woman from Sri Lanka has entered Sabarimala.

However, the 46-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil woman said she was denied entry into the temple, which has been at the centre of a showdown since India’s supreme court overturned a ban on the entry of women of menstruating age.

“She entered the temple yesterday night. She is 47 years old and came as a devotee. We were aware and watched the situation,” Balram Kumar Upadhyay, a police official, told AFP.

The woman, Sasikala, was accompanied by her husband, Saravanan, and son for darshan, and she told reporters that she was not allowed to offer prayers at the temple. Only Saravanan and his son were reportedly allowed to offer prayers.

According to Sasikala, she was prevented by the police from proceeding further at Marakootam, which is on the way to Sabarimala.

“There was no protest from devotees,” she told reporters. “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…

“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 like others. You will come to know who I am,” she said.

On Thursday (3), Kerala witnessed widespread violent protests over the entry of two women of menstruating age into the shrine. Thousands of Hindu hardliners, who believe women of menstruating age should not enter the temple because Ayyappa was celibate, had previously succeeded in preventing women from accessing the site.

Clashes on Wednesday (2) and Thursday between devotees and activists resulted in the death of a man and injuring at least 15 others. According to reports, 1,369 people have been arrested.

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