Some Hindu right-wing groups have kicked up a row by claiming that a woman below 50 years entered the Sabarimala temple along with health minister KK Shylaja on Friday.
The allegations surfaced after photos and videos of a woman clad in a yellow saree standing near the shrine started doing the rounds on social media. In one of the photos, minister Shylaja can be seen applying vermilion on the woman's forehead.
Women aged between 10 and 50 aren't allowed inside the Sabarimala temple as the deity is considered a 'celibate'. The Supreme Court has referred the case to a constitutional bench, which will decide if the ban violates the fundamental rights.
Right-wing outfits, such as Hindu Aikya Vedi, have come out protesting against the incident and held the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) responsible for "violating" the system followed at the hillock shrine.
"The onus is on TDB to clear the air. The usual practice is that they would stop such women who appear to be below 50 years at Pamba and allow to proceed only upon showing a documental proof," Deccan Chronicle quoted KP Sasikala, state president of Hindu Aikya Vedi, as saying.
TDB's new president A Padmakumar said the board would "look into the charges", though a preliminary inquiry showed that the woman's age is above 50 years.
"She is a health department official who accompanied the health minister. We will conduct a detailed probe into the charges and give a clarification in two days," the report quoted Padmakumar as saying.
This is not the first time that a controversy has erupted over women under 50 allegedly entering Sabarimala temple. A similar incident was reported back in April this year.