Sikh Americans remember gurdwara tragedy with community service

    By IANS,

    Washington: Sikhs in America marked the first anniversary of the Oak Creek tragedy when a gunman attacked a gurdwara in Wisconsin killing six worshippers, with a day of community service and remembrance.

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    Prayer meetings were held across the US Monday to honour those who lost their lives Aug 5 last year — Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suvegh Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka — and pray for the full recovery of those critically injured.

    “We are proud that Sikh Americans nationwide have responded to this tragedy with open hearts and heads held high, consistent with the Sikh belief in Chardi Kala (eternal optimism),” Sikh coalition, an umbrella organisation of the community said in a statement.

    Sikh communities nationwide and California’s SEVA organization partnered with the Sikh Coalition on a National Day of Seva (Selfless Service) to pay tribute to the Oak Creek community, it said.

    Detroit Sikhs partnered with Kids Against Hunger to package 20,000 meals for needy families and Houston Sikhs volunteered at a local library and partnered with Urban Harvest to clean a garden at a local elementary school

    In New York City, Sikhs cleaned Morningside Park while Sikhs in California’s Central Valley and Bay Area packaged and served food to the homeless.

    Washington area Sikhs marked the anniversary of Oak Creek tragedy with prayers and reflection at Guru Gobind Singh Foundation, Rockville Sikh Centre Monday night.

    “Since the Sep 11 attacks, too many Sikh Americans have been wrongfully subjected to hate crimes and discrimination,” said Ami Bera, the lone Indian American member of the US House of Representatives vowing to keep working closely with the community for protecting domestic civil rights.

    Other members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) also pledged to “work to ensure that discrimination and hateful acts based on intolerance do not have a place in our nation”.

    South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), leading a network of 41 South Asia organizations, started a blog series “to place the Oak Creek tragedy in a broader history and context of racial and religious injustice in our country”.

    The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement saying American Muslims “stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters” after the Oak Creek tragedy.