President of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation President SP Manju said she dyed her hair grey to look like an old woman.

Kerala woman claims to have entered Sabarimala temple without police protection
news Sabarimala Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 09:49

The President of the Kerala Dalit Mahila Federation President SP Manju claims to have successfully entered Sabarimala temple on Tuesday. 36-year-old SP Manju told Asianet that she arrived at Pamba at 4 AM on Tuesday, and entered the temple a little after 6 AM. Manju, from Chathanur, Kollam, said she made the trek alone, and did so with no security cover or police protection, although she claims that she did provide updates to police about her intention to climb the hill and her location at different times as required. She further said that she had entered the temple by climbing the 18 steps, and not through a side entrance, and had carried an irumudikettu (bag of holy offerings that Ayyappa devotees carry) while she entered the temple. She has however said that she dyed her hair grey to look like an old woman and also to escape the scrutiny of others. 

She told The New Indian Express that it had now been 24 hours since she had entered the temple, and unlike after the entry of Bindu and Kanaka Durga on 2 January, no purification ritual had been performed, and therefore the “jinx” on women entering the temple had been lifted. Though a Facebook collective called Navodhana Keralam had first made the claim that Manju had gone to the temple successfully, the police and government are yet to react. In previous instances, the government has confirmed the entry of women.

Manju also told Asianet that while she noticed no protests or opposition around her while she was making the trek, she did receive assistance from Ayyappa Karma Samithi workers at Sannidhanam. She said that a few such workers recognised her once she arrived at Sannidhanam, and could be seen making phone calls to inform others of her arrival, but that she was also assisted by them as they told her what to do with the pooja items she had brought with her, and offered her water to drink. 

However, Manju's claims have stoked a new controversy. Many, including Rahul Eashwar, have questioned whether she disguised herself as an older person. Pictures of Manju at Sabarimala have been used to ask this question.

Manju had made earlier attempts to make the trek up Sabarimala hill and enter the temple, including on October 20th, but was thwarted by strong protests from protesters at Sabarimala hill, which led police to state that they could not provide her police protection at that time. At that time, police had also cited pending criminal cases against her as a reason why they could not provide her police protection. 

She told Asianet she returned from Sabarimala by taking a route through Thrissur.