The Kerala Police said it was looking into media reports that two women in their forties had entered the Sabarimala temple early Wednesday. They may have entered the shrine today because they would not have faced any issues. The duo released a video of their darshan.
Protests with sporadic violence were also reported in several other towns across the state, local media said.
BJP state president PS Sreedharan Pillai said that the state government has conspired to facilitate the entry of the two women to Sabarimala.
Kochi: The Sabarimala Karma Samithi has declared a harthal on Thursday in connection with the entry of women to Sabarimala.
Nestled atop a steep mountain amid a lush green tiger reserve, it's the site of one of the world's largest annual pilgrimages, with millions of Hindu devotees making the journey each year.
The two women in their 40s entered the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala and offered prayers.
The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, has elucidated the main motive of the protest as gender equality and move against efforts to create a communal divide in Kerala.
'We did not enter the shrine by climbing the 18 holy steps but went through the staff gate, ' one of the women, who both remain under police guard, later told reporters. BJP supporter Kollam Thulashi allegedly said that women on the banned age group should be ripped in half.
Conservative Hindu groups say they believe women of menstruating age would defile the temple's inner shrine.
Last year, violent protests broke out in the state after India's top court in September ordered the authorities to lift the ban on women or girls of menstruating age from entering the temple, which draws millions of worshippers a year. Over 176 socio-political organisations also helped in organising the parade, including the Communist Party of India (CPI), Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS).
Trupti Desai said she would not be able to visit the shrine before January 20 when it closes as there was a heavy rush of pilgrims and due to her prior programmes, but added that she would go there the next time it reopens.
Before Wednesday, over a dozen women had made unsuccessful bids to trek to the Sabarimala shrine to offer prayers during the Mandalam season. Seventy-two people were arrested amid the protests, including BJP leader K Surendran. They argue that the court has ignored their belief that the deity Ayyappa was celibate.
The incident prompted officials from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to call for protests. Instead the state is run by a coalition of left-wing parties which have said they will enforce the court ruling.