Richfield: Local Sikh community offers prayers

8:09 PM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
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RICHFIELD -- Members of Northeast Ohio's Sikh community are inviting everyone to a prayer service at their temple.

In response to the massacre of six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday, local Sikhs plan a special public service this coming Sunday in Richfield.

"Yesterday's incident was totally devastating," said Ash Chawla, a Westlake businessman and member of the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, or temple, in Richfield. "We were actually praying here when we heard the news."

"The whole community here was totally shocked. The kids were nervous. The families, the ladies were getting a little nervous about this whole incident," Chawla revealed.

"It's almost like a repeat of the 9/11 days. I hate to bring that up because, over the last ten years, I thought things were improving, our relations were improving," he continued.

Surjit Singh Dhillon, who also worships at the temple, added, "We are all very much shocked and disgusted with what happened. We never espected that in religious places like this people could come in and just start shooting."

He explained some of the tenets of the Sikh faith. "We believe in one God, universal brotherhood, we share and believe in honest living. And we take care of our children, family, and community in a religious way."

Manbir Kaur Pannu, a North Royalton dentist, told WKYC, "We are in a state of shock. We can't even imagine."

Pannu joined the Army National Guard after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and still serves as a Major. She did a tour of active duty with the Guard.

"A lot of people like me in our community volunteered after 9/11 and joined the U.S. military," Pannu said. The Wisconsin shootings disturbed her greatly.

"This is not the American way. I thought one of the major principles of our constitution was freedom of religion and we were robbed of that."

Rajinder Singh, who runs an electrical contracting company, came to the temple in Richfield to help make plans for next Sunday's prayer service and lunch.

"It is devastating what happened to us, especially in the place we pray," he said. "People are never hesitant to come to their temple and we could never dream that somone could come in and shoot everybody."

"This is a shock to the whole Sikh community in Northeast Ohio."


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