Local Sikh temple saddened by Wisconsin tragedy
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 August 6, 2012 4:42PM
Harlan Singh outside the Gurdwara Sahib in Crown Point Monday Aug. 6, 2012. Singh has been a Sihk priest for 17 years. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
If you go
The Sikh Religious Society of Indiana will hold a candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of the temple shooting in Wisconsin.
The vigil is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at its temple, 10005 Colorado St., Crown Point. The public is welcome.
For information, call Harpal Singh at 775-0468 or Jaspal Gothra at 765-337-5151.
Updated: September 8, 2012 6:12AM
CROWN POINT — A Sunday service had just ended when worshippers at the Sikh Religious Society of Indiana learned of the horror at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee.
“Our service was under way, we just heard at the end,” said Harpel Singh, a priest at the temple. “Some from our congregation have families there.”
Gurnam Sidhu, president of the temple congregation, said it organized a prayer service on Sunday after learning a suspected white supremacist gunned down six worshippers at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, before he was killed by police.
Police say Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran, walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin with a 9mm handgun and several magazines of ammunition. He opened fire without saying a word. Police say they’re treating the investigation as an act of domestic terrorism, but no motive is known.
Singh and Sidhu, who both follow the Sikh practice of covering their hair in turbans, said Monday they are often confused with Muslims, especially after Sept. 11.
“Nobody knows if it’s a hate crime, but what’s done is done,” Singh said.
Sidhu said there have been safety concerns in the past. “We have security cameras, we will be more careful in the future.”
Founded more than 500 years ago, Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God. The local temple has doors on each side of its building symbolizing its spirit of welcome to worshippers and guests. “Everyone is welcome, irrespective of color or creed,” said Sidhu.
Worshippers remove their shoes at the temple entrance and scarves are available for women to cover their hair.
Singh said there’s a continuous reading from the holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, for 48 hours before the Sunday service. After the service, breakfast is shared in a community room.
Inside the temple, a TV screen translates the service for guests.
Singh said worshippers all sit on the floor — a tradition that’s a testament of the Sikh belief in equality.
Nearby on Monday, youngsters took part in Punjabi lessons so they can learn the language of their parents and grandparents. Their small flip flops lined a doorway.
A colorful mural of the Golden Temple covers a wall. It represents the spiritual center of the Sikh religion in Amritsar in northwestern India.
“This is a place of worship,” said Sidhu. “Every place of worship should be highly respected ... We hope such a thing never happens again.”