More then a thousand gathered in Union Square, NYC: children, mothers & fathers, young professionals, Sikhs, and many non-Sikhs all representing one message: We are all Sikhs and this attack could happen to any one of us. Crowds gathered last night in the North Plaza of Union Square in remembrance of the horrific shootings that occurred in the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara this past weekend.
The vigil started at 7:30pm as T-shirts reading: “We are all Sikhs” were given out along with head coverings representing solidarity.
Volunteers handed out pears and plums as prasad (an offering). As the vigil began various leaders of diverse religious organizations to local politicians shared their condolences and messages of unity. The crowd was asked to greet their neighbor and thank them for coming together to stand united.
At 8:04pm an announcement was made that any Muslims observing a fast for Ramadan would have a prayer area available to the side so that they could break their fast. “To see one religion worshiping at an event held in remembrance of another religion – that’s one nation under god” said a local bystander.
The vigil continued with a prayer where everyone was asked to cover their heads out of respect and come together to remember the victims who lost their lives. Volunteers held up posters of the six victims and an extra picture of Lt. Brian Murphy, a New York native who was shot during the shooting outside the temple.
His poster read: “He survived. Our hero.”
A hymn, and a moment of silence followed in remembrance of those who lost their lives on August 5, 2012. As the event came to a close, darkness in Union Square was lit up by candles and a well known Jaikara (Sikh Slogan) echoed amongst the crowd: “Jo Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” this jaikara humbly expresses that “All victories belong to god”. This vigil like many others being held across the country is a message, a united message that we must all stand together to be victorious in this fight against hate.
As I left the event I looked around and was humbled by the amount of people who came out to support the Sikh Community and stand up against hate crimes. It was wonderful to see people from such diverse backgrounds all come together and couldn’t help but hope that this unity continues. While going back home several bystanders, NYPD officers, and tourists stopped me to admire the t-shirt, give their condolences, and ask how they could learn more. I was happy to stop and share the knowledge, after all this crime stemmed from pure ignorance and hate. As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power” and we all should take a little time out to learn more about what other cultures and religions consist of. I’m thankful to the Sikh Coalition for putting together such a well organized event in such a quick time frame and for educating the community.
To find out more information for vigils being held nationwide please visit:
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