Tragedy in the Oak Creek GurdwaraBy Lavina Melwani • Aug 17th, 2012 • Category: The Buzz
In the past few days we’ve all been to the Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin again and again, if not in person then in spirit via scores of live reports on the senseless killings, the grieving congregation, the stories of the lives lost. There’s almost a surreal ring of deja vu to this whole episode as one recalls the painful stories of discrimination against Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11.
Why does it take some people so long to understand a simple truth - that we may all look different but at heart we are all the same – human? Why do common-sense teachings go awry and lessons which are taught in kindergarten – kindness and love to one’s fellows – get misinterpreted so horribly?
What is particularly sad about these attacks is that they are a backlash against a community which has a sterling track record of service and openness, even to complete strangers. If this assailant had wandered into the gurdwara sick and hungry and hurt, looking for food and help, this would have been the one place in the neighborhood where he would have been showered with both, no questions asked. Indeed, one of the key tenets of Sikhism is service to humanity.
No one who comes to a gurdwara in need is ever turned away – there is always a place to sleep, food to eat besides a whole-hearted sharing of spiritual sustenance. Langar, the wonderful communal meals cooked by all members of the congregation, are for everyone. Status, fine cars or homes have no bearing. Each one cuts and cleans, cooks and serves. All are equal as they sit together on the floor to share this simple meal, children of one God.
I am not a Sikh but an image of Guru Nanakji sits in my home shrine – a reminder of His teaching of love, equality and oneness. If all of us could inculcate a little touch of Sikhism into our daily lives, a few of its spiritual beliefs into our interactions with others, the world will be a gentler, better place.
The many heart-felt, impromptu vigils and memorials by Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike in the past week have shown how people of good will can come together. At a recent Interfaith vigil organized in Long Island, religious leaders from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism all shared prayers and good vibes. Indeed, standing together is the only way to be…
- BROCHURE — Who are the Sikhs Brochure
- WEBSITE — Learn About Sikhs
- HANDOUT - Welcome to the Gurdwara
- FACT SHEET – Sikh American Fact Sheet
- DOCUMENT — Summary of Sikh American Community Observations
- HOW TO GUIDE — Organizing a Vigil in your Local Community
- HOW TO GUIDE- Organizing a Gurdwara Open House
- VIDEO – Inside a Sikh Gurdwara (Filmed with CNN)