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Friday, August 10, 2012

Mourners Gather To Honor Sikh Temple Victims

Mourners grieve at the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wis. (AP)

Mourners grieve at the funeral and memorial service for the six victims of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wis. (AP)

Thousands of mourners gathered this morning to pay their final respects to the six worshipers gunned down by a white supremacist at their Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc.

The service will include prayers and hymns and Attorney General Eric Holder will speak.

Afterward mourners will begin a traditional rite called “akhand path,” a ceremony that involves a series of priests reading their holy book aloud from cover to cover. The process, which takes 48 hours, is intended to honor the memories of the six victims.

Forty-year-old Wade Michael Page opened fire at the Sikh Temple on Sunday, killing one woman and five men, including the temple president.

Simran Jeet Singh, a Sikh scholar and doctoral student of religion at Columbia University, said he is encouraged by the outpouring of support for the Sikh community brought on by the tragedy.

While he, like other Sikhs, has long experienced intolerance, he writes in the Huffington Post that he is “rejecting the notion that we need to live in fear.”

He also wrote that greater cultural understanding could emerge from the shooting tragedy:

Although it will be important to understand what motivated the violence, this should not color the inspiration behind our own reactions. We should draw from our American and Sikh traditions by continuing to respond with love and compassion. Let us stand up together and turn the tragedy in Wisconsin into a turning point for our nation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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