The Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, Illinois along with North West Suburbs Organizing For Action (NWSOFA), a local community organization, recently held an interfaith prayer service and candlelight vigil for the 20 elementary school children and 6 teachers who were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012.
About 100 members of various faith groups and local leaders gathered at the Sikh Gurdwara to join in this event that was a part of a nationwide effort to #EndGunViolence.
It has been five years since the tragic incident at Sandy Hook and since then 150,000 people have been killed by gun violence, a press release from organizers said.
The vigil started indoors with a Kirtan in the langar hall of the Palatine Gurdwara.
The hymns were translated in English and meant, “O’ Lord of this universe, please nourish and take care of all the people of your Creation with your blessings and mercy.”
Eight speakers shared their personal stories, faith perspectives of hope and peace and emphasized solidarity and strength in opposing gun violence where innocent lives are lost.
They reminded the audience that gun violence impacts every community and all religions, races and ages.
Those present at the gathering included Surinder Kaur Singh of the Sikh Religious Society; Laddi Singh; Illinois State Senator Tom Rooney; Professor Kulwant Singh Hundal, former president of the Sikh Religious Society in Palatine; Raja-ullah Quaraishi of the Muslim community; Rabbi Stephen Hart of Temple Chai in Long Grove, IL; Gurleen Kaur Singh a high school student; Pastor Melissa Earley of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, IL; Patrick Watson representing NWSOFA; Maria Pike, #Everytown Fellow and Survivor Engagement Lead, IL; Surinder Kaur Singh, a social worker; Brently Donaldson, a Bahai; and Asayo Horbe, a Buddhist.
“We must create an America free from senseless Gun Violence where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, at their places of worship, on the street and in the shopping malls,” Rajinder Singh Mago, the co-coordinator of the event is quoted saying in the press release.
Watson read a pledge and urged a call to action to educate lawmakers on the need to bring in stricter gun laws and end senseless gun violence.
The names of the 26 victims were read out with the lighting of candles and a moment of silence was observed to honor them.