US Sikhs plan peaceful rites to mark Wisconsin gurdwara shooting
Twelve months ago, a white supremacist walked into a Milwaukee-area Sikh temple and opened fire on worshippers.
Oak Creek (US): Twelve months ago, a white supremacist walked into a Milwaukee-area Sikh temple and opened fire on worshippers he didn`t know, killing six people, injuring five others and devastating a community whose religion is based on peace and forgiveness.
With the tragedy`s anniversary coming up Monday, temple members say they`re drawing strength from their religion`s tenets. They`re planning to honour the dead with quiet events that include solemn religious observances and a candlelight vigil, hoping to show the world that the best way to stand against violence is to come together in kindness and love.
The events are being planned in the spirit of "chardhi kala," a Punjabi term that refers to a state of constant optimism, temple trustee Harcharan Gill said. Sikhs believe that a positive attitude, even during times of hardship, reflects an acceptance of the will of God.
"In Sikhism, it`s tough to lose somebody but God probably needed him earlier and called him back," he said of the deceased. "We accept whatever decision he makes."
Memorial events begin Friday at the US Federal Courthouse in Milwaukee, where US Attorney James Santelle will hold a special remembrance. Santelle`s office and the FBI investigated the shooter`s background for months before concluding that his motive for attacking the Oak Creek temple died along with him that day.
Wade Michael Page walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin a year ago Monday and opened fire. He killed several priests and worshippers, and then fatally shot himself after he was wounded in the parking lot by a police sniper.
The 40-year-old Army veteran, who also shot and severely wounded an Oak Creek police officer, had ties to white supremacist groups. But after interviewing 300 people and generating 200 investigative leads, the FBI found no evidence to suggest he had help or was acting in the name of any such groups.
Several relatives of the wounded and dead say they forgave Page long ago. Raghuvinder Singh, whose 65-year-old father has been nearly comatose since Page shot him in the head, said he relies on Sikhism`s lessons of compassion and understanding.
"I was talking about forgiveness from the first day this happened," said Singh, a Sikh priest along with his father and brother. "Sikhism is a peaceful religion. What Sikhism is teaching to us we are teaching to others. We practice it our whole lives."