Dayton( Ohio) USA :The lawn of the Summit Christian Church was the venue for tonight’s Interfaith Prayer Vigil for the victims of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh Temple Shooting. The Sun was shining bright and Mother Nature was kind as if trying to soothe the somber mood of all who gathered to mourn. There was no rain and no strong winds but only cool breeze. Over 100 people from different religious and ethnic background, many of them representing different local organizations, assembled in a shaded spot.
The program started with opening remarks by Rev. Crystal Jackson-Moore, of Greater Dayton Christian Connections. Dr. Darshan Singh Sehbi, of Dayton Sikh Community gave a brief introduction of the Sikh faith and beliefs and paid tribute to the six martyrs: Prakash Singh, the Gurdwara Granthi, 41 years old Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh, an 84 year old farmer, Sita Singh, brother of granthi ji, Ranjit Singh, whose family had been waiting for a reunion with him after 16 years of separation and Satwant Singh, the president of the Temple who gave died saving the lives of his people. An Ardaas in Punjabi was recited by Avtar Singh of Springfield and translated in English by Dr. Sehbi. Kirtan (singing of hymn) was presented by a group of young Sikh Girls with Manpreet Singh accompanying on the tabla. Sameep Singh distributed a translation of the shabads in English for the benefit of those who were present.
Brande Watson of the Baha’i Faith said a Prayer for the Shooter (Wade Michael Page), for Hatred and for the end of Violence. The audience joined in singing the Hymn ,"We Shall Overcome".
Diane Diller of Dayton International Peace Museum said a Prayer for Peace, Unity and Religious Freedom. Another shabad was presented by Dayton Sikh youth.
Wayel Azmeh of Dayton Mercy Society-Muslim Public Affairs Council said a Prayer for Acceptance of Faith Traditions and Liberation. He said that he was not only representing the Muslim community but all faiths who were present and even those who could not make it today. He said that today’s prayer was on behalf of all those who belong to a faith and those who do not but believe in humanity.
After the prayers, Dr. Sehbi read aloud the names of the 6 martyrs and Crystal Jackson-Moore released 6 white balloons, representing the 6 innocent victims and in honor of eternal life. One black balloon was released representing the shooter and for forgiveness for his senseless criminal deeds.
As the conclusion of the program, people mingled, exchanging their heartfelt feelings, expressing their sadness and pouring out their support. Local media was present and aired the event on the 6 O’clock news.
Punjabi snacks were provided in keeping with Sikh tradition.