News / USA

    American Sikhs Mourn a Tragedy Many Feared

    ROCKVILLE, Maryland — A group of girls wearing richly colored headcoverings sit on the floor of a Sikh temple near Washington, DC, preparing posters for a vigil in front of the White House.
     
    "Something with 'American' in it," one of them says, "like, 'Not a Sikh Tragedy, An American Tragedy." 
     
    Across the U.S., Sikhs are mourning the victims of the massacre Sunday that killed six of their co-religionists and wounded three others at a temple in Wisconsin. 
     
    The Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Rockville, Maryland, is the largest gurdwara, or Sikh temple, in the Washington area. The shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, has left many people here in shock.  
     
    "It's heartbreaking. We never thought this can happen, believe me," said Meeta Kaur Broca, a mother and IT specialist at a local firm. She said a gurdwara is supposed to be a sanctuary. "It's more secure than our own home. Our kids come here, they're walking, they're playing," she said. 
     
    As the younger generation draws up the posters for the vigil, the head cleric, or granthi, comes down from the prayer room. "We need your help with Punjabi," one of the girls says in English. The cleric sits on the floor, takes a magic marker and writes out a slogan in the Punjabi script.
     
    Bhai Gurdarshan Singh has led services at the Rockville gurdwara for the past 25 years.
     
    In his sermon, he told the story of the founder of the Sikh faith, Guru Nanak, who encountered a tribal leader "who wore a necklace of human fingers" and showed off his murderous strength by hacking a branch off a tree. 
     
    The guru then challenged him: "Can you put it back?"
     
    "Powerful are not those who know how to destroy. Powerful are those who know how to unite," Gurdarshan Singh told worshippers seated crosslegged on the floor of the temple, quoting the founder of his faith. 
     
    In an interview before the service, Gurdarshan Singh said he heard about the shooting while chanting prayers.
     
    "And somebody whispered in my ears and told me this has happened. And it was difficult to digest how can something in a gurdwara, in a place of worship, happen. It's a senseless act," he said. 
     
    Dr. Rajwant Singh is president of the suburban Washington gurdwara and chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education. He followed the news at home as details emerged of the gunman's white supremacist views.
     
    He says Sikhs are often misidentified as Muslims because of their turbans, and that their worries grew after the September 11, 2001 attacks. "So there has always been in the back of our minds a fear, anticipating a tragedy like this to happen," he said.
     
    There are about a half-million Sikhs in America and they are rarely in the spotlight. But Sikhs have played a part in the country's civil rights struggle - claiming the first Asian American elected to Congress in 1957. A World War I veteran who was a Sikh fought a battle for citizenship rights in the 1920s that went all the way to the Supreme Court - although the ruling denied him and other Indian Americans citizenship because they were not Caucasian.
     
    The Wisconsin tragedy comes as many Sikhs are celebrating the centennial of the first American gurdwara built in 1912 in Stockton, California.
     

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora