A prayer service and candlelight vigil commemorating the nine victims of the shooting at Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, June 17 was organized by Sikh Religious Society Palatine, Illinois here late last month.
More than 200 Sikhs attended the vigil at Palatine, Illinois Gurdwara June 24.
The Charleston shooting opened up a wound for the Sikh Community still healing their wounds from a similar tragedy at Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh Temple nearly three year ago in which a gunman killed six people.
During the vigil here nine candles were lit for the nine victims who lost their lives during the Charleston shooting. Their names were read by Jaspreet Singh and Amrit Kaur Thind. The event started with Ardaas (Sikh Prayers) by Manpriya Kaur and singing of a Sikh hymn by Sahibnoor Kaur.
“We know, deeply and profoundly, what the pain of hate violence means. We want to show that love, prayer and unity far outweighs hate. We invite communities to unite and heal with prayer for the nine victims and all of humanity,” said Natasha Kaur.
Satnaam Singh Mago emphasized that Sikhs are all connected in sorrow and determination to end racial and hate violence in communities. He explained “why we all need to be activists” against hate crimes so that tragedies like this are not repeated. He added that the origins of Sikhism were based on activism against tyranny and standing up for truth and justice, not only for themselves, but also for others.
Society president Jasbir Kaur Saluja thanked all the guests, participants and the organizers. “We, the Sikh American Community, are shaken to the core seeing hate crime raising its head again. It will be three years in August 2015, when we saw the same fire of racial hatred in the eyes of another white supremacist, who killed six worshippers at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. We want to convey to the worshipers at the Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church that we, with the Nation behind us, are more than ever determined to preserve the delicate fabric of American Togetherness that has been built by the sacrifices of pilgrims of past and present,” he said.
“Any such acts of hate will double our determination to bring unity and peace for one and all,” he said.
The event was coordinated by Jasvir Kaur Singh, Satnaam Singh Mago, Natasha Kaur Sandhu, Manpriya Kaur, Jaspreet Singh, Simaren Kaur Sandhu, and Davinder Singh.