OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS 58) — Prayers are continuing at Sikh Temple Wisconsin as they pay respects to the seven people killed there in 2012 by a gunman carrying out a hate crime.
Organizers say it’s all to promote cultural understanding to stop things like that from happening again.
Hundreds came out Saturday, Aug. 6, sharing food, conversations and getting tours of the temple.
“One of the issues we have as a community is we don’t have enough people understanding who Sikhs are,” said Sharan Singh, program manager with National Sikh Advocacy Organization SALDEF.
She said while we don’t live in the same world 10 years ago when the mass shooting happened, or the post-9/11 world where Sikh people were attacked for the way they looked, there are still dangers for Sikh Americans.
“We are much more aware of the situation than we used to be 10 years ago,” said Singh.
She says that’s why a big component of events like these is education.
“So people don’t have biases and don’t have any misconceptions about who our community is,” said Singh.
She said they invite everyone into their temple, or gurdwara, to learn about their religion, which she says started in India 500 years ago from Hinduism, and is focused on gender equality, justice and community.
To enter the gurdwara, people remove their shoes and cover their hair.
“We really enjoyed getting to know some of the people right when we got here they had a welcome tent and put on our head covering for us and welcomed us in here,” said Nicole Hermann.
Nicole and her husband Jim Hermann experienced the temple Saturday — seeing the ongoing reading of their holy book, expected to end around noon Sunday, Aug. 7, and sharing in their food.
They say it changed their perspective on the Sikh people they live near.
“Now I feel like I know a little bit more about our neighbors,” said Nicole.
“I feel like we can approach them more and rather than just wave, have a little more in common to talk about,” said Jim.
Singh said she hopes more and more people can understand to prevent hate from spreading.
“It really means a lot, I know to the families, to the victims, to the community here, and also the community at large, to know that people are concerned about the well-being of our community and also for the well-being of people at large.
If you’re interested in coming out and experiencing this all for yourself, the event is continuing tomorrow,” said Singh.
If you’re interested in learning more about their religion, the event is continuing on Sunday, Aug. 7.