Updated 08/06/2012 10:56 PM
Local Sikhs grieve, but aim to educate after shooting
The shooting in Wisconsin has sent shockwaves through Sikh communities around the country and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Capital Region. The high priest at a local temple lost three family members in the attack. However, he and his congregation are choosing to pray, instead of persecute. Innae Park has more.
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EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. -- Miles away from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six lives were taken by a gunman on Sunday, another community grieves over the pain being felt by the Sikhs there.
“This happened and we have to cope with that. It's God's will, have to cope with that,” said Maninder Gujral, the spokesperson of the Sikh Association of Capital District.
In tribute, members of the gurdwara, or temple, in East Greenbush invited their community Monday night to join them in a prayer service, a familiar part of their faith, and then a candlelight vigil, a custom more familiar to those around them.
“We are part of the family. We are not any different. We look different, but not something different,” said Jagmohan Chahal, the Chairman of the Board for the Sikh Association of Capital District.
The tragedy itself hits close to the heart. The gurdwara's high priest and his wife lost three of their relatives in the shooting. Another was injured.
High Priest Gian Singh said, “Very difficult time for family. We try to call last night. Just call to India last night, for the whole family to hear.
Even with such loss, the couple and the congregation refuse to take the route of retaliation.
Through a translator, Singh said, “Our religion teaches us to be calm, quiet, non-violent, no matter what the other party does.”
Former East Greenbush gurdwara president Arvinder Singh said, “Hate is ignorance.”
As a result, members have realized they must focus their efforts on sharing knowledge in order for healing to continue.
Gujral said their goal is “To increase awareness of our religion to the people around who are watching to see what we are so they can understand what we are.”
The East Greenbush gurdwara is accepting donations to pass onto the families of the shooting victims.
If you'd like to contribute, you can contact the Sikh Association of Capital District or visit www.indiegogo.com/Milwaukee-Sikh.