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A Sikh Community Observes Sept. 11 Anniversary - 2002-09-10

Memorial observances and other events are scheduled throughout the United States Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. But some observances are already underway.

At the Gurudwara Saib, a Sikh temple on Chicago's north side, members of the community Monday evening began a ritual called the Akand Path.

Sikh minister Shiva Singh Khalsa says the Akand Path is a continuous reading of all 1,400 pages of the Sikh holy book in its original Gurmukhi language.

"We believe greatly in prayer and devotion and we believe that this brings the power of prayer and blessings to whatever that transition is, whether it be a birth or a death or even a new home or starting a new career," said Minister Khalsa.

In this case, the transition is the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and how their aftermath has affected the Sikh community.

"There were some people who were victims of hate crimes. Several of them were Sikhs. So we wanted to observe that."

Because Sikh men wear turbans, some were the targets of anti-Muslim harassment after September 11. In Arizona last year, a Sikh gas station owner was killed at work by a man who later told police, "I am an American."

Mr. Khalsa says Sikhs have spent much of the last year both trying to educate other Americans that despite the turban, Sikhs are not Muslim, but are also speaking out against anti-Muslim violence.

"We are Americans. Even though we have a turban and a beard and even though we speak with an accent, some of us, some of us are first or second-generation. Still this is part of our lives and it affected us all as well," he said.

The Akand Path ritual at this temple will continue through Wednesday.