Friday, August 10, 2012

Candlelight Vigil at at Sikh Association of Staten Island

A sea of candles
washed over the pavement
as we turned one by one
to our brothers and sisters
to spread the warmth;
A sea of love.
And in our moment of silence,
the only presence was Light.

A memorial service/candlelight vigil was held at the Sikh Association of Staten Island on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 for the victims of the mass shooting at the Oak Creek Gurdwara.
About 125 people, including individuals from various faiths, came down to show their support.
Among those in attendance and/or speaking were: Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn); democratic congressional candidate Mark Murphy; Tahir Kukiqi, the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center; Gonzalo Mercado, Staten Island Immigrants Council, NYPD Community Affairs Detective Santana Rivera, and Hesham El-Meligy, Islamic Civic Association of Staten Island.

Photos from the event by Jasleen Ahuja:

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Speak. Educate. Donate.

I will probably never forget this day. My mother woke me up to tell me that there was a shooting in a Gurdwara in Wisconsin.

A shooting in a Gurdwara? I cannot express the disbelief I felt in that moment – the Gurdwara, a Sikh place of worship, was forever to me the safest place in the world. It is where we meditate and pray, cook together in our community kitchen, sit and share a hot meal. Everyone is welcome. It is a place filled only with love and kindness.

A shooting in a Gurdwara? I am speechless.

My heart aches for the victims of this horrific tragedy. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.

I cannot say that any good can come of such a day, but what I do know is that news stations around the world are reporting this tragedy, and my social media pages are overflowing with posts about Sikhism.

So let us realize that in this moment, rather than becoming wrapped up in anger, or trying to understand the motives behind the shooting, uniting to create awareness is of utmost importance. We must make sure that we never see a day like this again.
So please, share your thoughts, speak, and educate.

Let us also have a moment of silence for the six innocent lives that were lost today, and pray for the incredibly brave police officer that risked his life to save those that were in the Gurdwara.

What can you do to help?
Please visit this link to support the families of Sikhs and police officers wounded or killed in the Wisconsin Shooting. Any contribution will make a huge difference:

To learn more about the Wisconsin Shooting, please visit this link.

Some facts about Sikhism:

“Sikhism is the world's fifth largest independent religion. It originated in northwest India, and its central tenets are belief in a single God, equality for all people and a commitment to community service.

Sikh men wear a turban and keep an uncut beard, among other articles, as a sign of devotion to God and to keep a strong identity. This uniform identity ensures equality and discipline. Unfortunately, this appearance is often incorrectly confused with Al-Qaeda, Taliban, etc.

The Gurdwara is the proper name for a Sikh Temple, a place of peace. Members of all faiths are welcome. Sikhs sit together humbly on the floor while praying. After services, Sikhs and non-Sikhs sit as equals on the floor while eating a meal donated and prepared by members of the congregation.

Sikhs believe in the validity of all faiths. To that end, they have fought to ensure religious freedom, not only for themselves, but for members of all communities.

Sikhs continue in that struggle today, despite today's horrible injustice.”
(Source Unknown)