Sabarimala temple authorities say an extended ritual to "restore the sanctity" of the famed Kerala shrine - after an actress admitted to entering it, thereby breaking its rules - could take nearly two years.
The astrologer who revealed the information about the actress' visit has suggested corrective rituals over nearly two years, said G Raman Nair, president of Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which overseas the temple.
Controversy has erupted over Kannada actress and producer Jaimala admitting to entering the shrine in 1987.
The rules of the temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa bar women who have attained puberty but have not reached menopause from entering it.
Jaimala mentioned the incident in a letter to noted astrologer Parapanangadi Unnikrishna Panicker.
According to the letter, she along with her husband had visited the temple in 1987 and touched the idol of Lord Ayyappa. She decided to pray there after taking a vow for her husband's recovery from a leg ailment.
The episode was revealed after the TDB decided to hold Ashtamangala Devaprasnam rituals during June 16-19, as things were not going smoothly for the temple. For this, the TDB contacted astrologer Panicker.
"He, a day after beginning the Devaprasnam, told me that the deity has been violated and women have entered the hallowed place. And a day later came information of the letter from Jaimala to Panicker," said Nair.
"Panicker has told me that corrective rituals to restore the sanctity of the temple would have to be undertaken for nearly two years at various times. This is the only solution. Panicker is now to write to us on what needs to be done and we will do everything humanly possible for this," said Nair.
The Ayyappa temple is situated in the Western Ghats at an altitude of 914 metres above sea level, four kilometres from the Pamba river in Pathanamthitta district of central Kerala.
It has become one of the most famous Hindu pilgrim centres in India.
JS Indukumar, a journalist with the Asianet television channel who interviewed the actress, Tuesday said Jaimala was rather surprised to know that her letter to Panicker had been made public.
"I spoke to her for more than 10 minutes on telephone to find out about the letter and she admitted that in 1987 she along with her husband had arrived at the Sabarimala temple and touched the deity of Lord Ayappa," said Indukumar.
The news has come as a surprise because a woman can never enter the shrine without the knowledge of temple insiders.
Meanwhile, reports have also surfaced that three other southern Indian actresses may have entered the temple when they went there in connection with a film shooting a few years ago