As hundreds flooded into the Palatine Sikh Gurdwara, or temple, Monday night, all being required to remove their shoes and cover their heads, those of other faiths were identifiable by one thing: the educational pamphlets they had picked up on their way in.
Interfaith religious tolerance was a message returned to again and again Monday night, as speakers offered their prayers for the six victims in the Sunday Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting. The candlelight vigil, held by the Sikh Religious Society, 1280 W. Winnetka St., welcomed people of all faiths to share in the sorrow and learn about Sikh culture and customs.
Rev. Paul Rutgers, of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, emphasized the strength of the entire religious community.
“The number of people who stood up this evening when asked to identify themselves as members of the interfaith community, that…speaks louder than words,” he said. More than 100 people stood in the packed sanctuary to show they were of other faiths.
Parminder Singhmann, a Sikh living in Chicagoland who was invited to speak, emphasized how closely the Wisconsin tragedy had affected the Sikh community in the entire Midwest.
“It’s a small community – many of us know each other personally or have seen each other’s faces…and it just seems very personal,” he said.
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that began in India in the 15th century. Estimates of its U.S. population today range from 300,000 to 500,000.