People of all faiths are invited to gather at the Sikh Gurdwara in San Jose at 8:00 pm Wednesday evening, August 8, for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the attack on the Sikh Gurwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, on Sunday. The attack by a gunman, later identified as Wade Michael Page, a member of a neo-Nazi group, left six dead and three severely wounded. Page himself was killed by police.
The service planned for Wednesday will include prayers and condolences from people across Silicon Valley, and will end with the lighting of candles outside the Gurdwars.
Messages of support and condolences have flooded in for the Sikh community in Oak Creek. President Obama declared on Sunday, “At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.” Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney said, “We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead.”
San Jose Sikh Gurdwara is an Affiliate Congregation of SiVIC, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council. SiVIC stated on their website, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, earlier today, which resulted in the deaths of seven people, including the gunman, and several more wounded. No religious community should ever have to bear the pain of having their sacred space invaded by hatred and violence. We join with the local Sikh community and other religious communities in pledging to work together to build the understanding and appreciation for our diverse religious traditions that can serve to prevent such tragedies anywhere and everywhere.”
The Interfaith Council on Economics and Justice, based in San Jose, issued this statement: “As people of faith who support the freedom of all to peacefully worship and follow their individual faith traditions, we are in prayer for the victims, families and fellow members of the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis., where Sunday’s deadly shootings occurred. Violence and discrimination against one faith is a threat to people of all faiths and to the fabric that allows a free society to live in peace and security. We grieve for the loss of life caused by the actions of an individual apparently motivated by racial hatred, and we pledge ourselves to work for a society that recognizes and addresses this hatred as the destructive and threatening force it represents to us all.”
Sikhism originated in the Punjab area of India 600 years ago. Sikh men are most recognizable by their long beards and turbans, a visible sign of their commitment to God. Sikhs believe in one God and in the equality of all human beings. The Gurdwara, which means “Gate of the Guru” is a place for prayer and reciting from the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. At the Gurdwara, visitors of any faith are welcomed to eat freely at the langar, a kitchen that prepares vegetarian food for all as an act of service.
Encompassing 90.000 square feet, the San Jose Sikh Gurdwara is the largest Gurdwara in North America. The first phase was completed in 2004, and the second phase in 2011. The grounds include worship space, the langar kitchen, rooms for education and community gatherings. A striking feature is a fountain on the hillside leading up to the Gurdwara, in which water cascades down several levels like a waterfall.
Other groups in the Bay Area planning services and vigils include:
Wednesday, August 8
- El Sobrante Gurdwara – 7:30 -9:30 pm
3550 Hillcrest Road, El Sobrante
- Fremont Gurdwara – 7:00 pm
300 Gurdwara Road, Fremont
- Hayward Gurdwara – 7:00 pm
1798 D Street & 1805 Hill Ave., Hayward
Friday, August 10:
- City of Berkeley – 5:00 pm
Gather at City Hall, march to I-80 Pedestrian Bridge for candlelight vigil