City Hall Lights Up in Memory of Victims of the Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooting
More than 500 Houstonians of all faiths gathered as one big family at City Hall, Downtown Houston yesterday for a candlelight vigil for victims of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting. At these times of terrorism it was heartwarming to witness different communities in their ethnic wear and various religious leaders stand united for peace, unity and humanity. Men, women and children of all races and color stood amongst many Houston Sikhs at Mayor Annise Parker’s interfaith candlelight prayer vigil on August 9, 2012.
The August 5th massacre at the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin might have jolted the consciousness of Americans and people all over the world with a lot of mud slinging and anger, but the fact remains that terrorism has no religion and is faceless. The candlelight vigil event was a reassurance of Houston being known as a melting pot with a diverse culture. “I admired the way that so many religious leaders came and spoke on behalf of the victims and their families. I thought Mayor Parker’s speech was extremely respectful and was a true honor to the victims and the families,” shares Viswa Subbaraman.
The evening was very well put together as Bobby Singh, Sikh Community Volunteer and Emcee introduced Mayor Parker, whose speech touched many hearts. Mayor Parker requested all communities to pledge to not let such terrorist acts change our identity, culture and our beliefs. Similarly U.S. Representative Al Green stirred everyone with his very passionate speech. He stole applause when he stated that if we were not safe in our religious place of worship, where were we safe? He further said that his heart aches to believe that if it happens to a Sikh it could happen to a Christian or a Muslim, Hindu or a Jew and therefore tolerance of various religions for the sake of humanity was very crucial. Also addressing the audience were: Elliot Gershenson, President & CEO, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Baha’i: Ajit Giani, Houston Baha’i Community, Venerable Hung I, Jade Buddha Temple, Reverend Betty Adam, Christ Church Cathedral, Acharya Praveen Gulati, Hindus for Greater Houston, Rabbi Lyon, Congregation Beth Israel, Imam Wazir Ali, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Bhai Sahib Manjit, Sikh Community of Houston, and Manmeet Likhari, a Sikh Community Member.
The ceremony concluded with chantings and prayers from The Guru Granth Sahib or Adi Granth (the religious text of Sikhism) and candle lighting. It was a very emotional evening to see people with tears in their eyes as they paid respect to those who lost their lives in a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) but at the same time strengthen their belief in the goodness of humanity.
Photo Credit: Lights Camera Action