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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 March 2006, 17:17 GMT
High priest horrified by blast
The Sankot Mochan temple is dedicated to the god Hanuman
The first of two explosions to hit the northern Indian pilgrimage city of Varanasi occurred at the Sankot Mochan temple dedicated to the Hindu God Hanuman.

The BBC News website spoke to Dr Veer Bhadra Mishra, the high priest of the temple, to get his reaction to the devastating blasts.

The explosion at the temple is horrific and shocking to me. This is a very holy site.

The Sankat Mochan temple is loved, respected and revered by so many people as a place of religious worship and ritual. I am so pained, I don't know if I can truly express how I feel.

The blast took place at 1815 (1245 GMT). There was a marriage celebration going on at the time of the explosions. I have heard that litres of blood have been spilt there.

This should not happen in a holy place. I cannot emphasise how special this temple is. Now, thousands of people are standing at the gate crying and screaming. None of them are allowed inside.

Shattered peace

Sankot Mochan is a temple dedicated to the God Hanuman and is where Goswami Tulsidas, one of India's greatest poets, saw the God Hanuman in physical form 400 years ago.

This is a god who symbolises devotion, intellect and unparalleled power and protection to devotees.

Hanuman materialised in front of Goswami Tulsidas all those years ago in a forest. We say that he "got darshan" - which means he received a vision of the divine.

The temple compound was built on that very location and an atmosphere of such peace has pervaded the entire place since then.

I inherited the position of high priest when I was 14 years old in 1952 but I took over effective management of the temple in 1963. I am responsible for the most important rites here.

Now that is all shattered by these blasts.


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