On Wednesday evening nearly 300 people crowded into the Sikh Temple of Spokane to mourn those killed while worshiping in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin over the weekend.
After lighting candles in their memory, local Sikhs and non-Sikhs sat side by side in the Spokane Valley gurdwara and sang about their concord, “the clay is the same, but the fashioner has fashioned it in various ways.”
Geshe Thupten Phelgye, a Tibetan Buddhist monk living in Spokane, said he came to the service to show his support for the Sikh community and to share in their condolences.
John Hancock, president of Friends of Compassion, said he came to take a stand for compassion, peace, brotherhood and love.
“Accepting people I don’t know very well, and that I may not understand very well, as just fellow humans here on this path, I believe has an effect on this world,” he said.
He said he plans to make an extra effort to get to know and say hello to Sikhs as he encounters them.
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and Sikhs have had a presence in American for at least a century. Sikh men can be recognized by their full beard and turban. Most Sikhs, male and female, also wear a kara — a steel bracelet that serves as a reminder to do God’s work.
“Most people are unaware of Sikhs….and are unaware of what Sikhs face to today. The biggest step today is educating everyone about Sikhism,” said Inderbir Bains, a member of the temple.
Baldev Singh, a member of temple, said the local Sikh community plans to do more outreach so people can get to know them better.
“Please tell your friends,” he said. “The doors are always open for you to come and take the blessings with you.”
Worship is Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A vegetarian breakfast is served at 10 a.m. and a lunch is served at 1 p.m.
“Sikhs stand up for the tenants of what America is all about. We have a long and steady commitment to this land. Sikhs are born here…marry here…Sikhs aren’t going anywhere,” he said.
On Saturday the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane has organized Arms of Compassion, where they will join hands and encircle the temple and pray for one hour while the Sikhs worship inside. Anyone wanting to participate is asked to meet at the temple at noon.
View more photos of this event on our Flickr page.