In remembrance of the 20 elementary schoolchildren and six teachers killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Dec. 14, 2012, in Newtown Connecticut, the Sikh Religious Society, Palatine, in partnership with the community organization North West Suburbs Organizing For Action organized an interfaith prayer service and candlelight vigil.
The service was a part of nationwide vigils and events to #EndGunViolence. This was the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting and 150,000 people have been killed by gun violence since this tragedy.
About 100 members of various faith groups and local leaders surrounded by people of goodwill gathered at the Sikh Gurdwara to pray and honor the victims of this tragedy.
The vigil started indoors with Kirtan (singing of Sikh hymns) in the langar hall of the Palatine Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). The hymns translated in English meant, "O' Lord of this universe, please nourish and take care of all the people of your creation with your blessings and mercy."
Eight speakers, representing the Sikh, Muslim, Bahai, Christian, Jewish, gun violence prevention communities, and civil action oriented organizations addressed the gathering. The speakers shared their personal stories, faith perspectives of hope and peace, and emphasized solidarity and strength in opposing gun violence where innocent lives are lost. They reminded the audience that gun violence impacts every community and all religions, races and ages.
Surinder Kaur Singh of the Sikh Religious Society opened the program and welcomed the guests. Laddi Singh recognized elected officials including Illinois Senator Tom Rooney, and participating nonprofit organizations.
"We must create an America free from senseless gun violence where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, at their places of worship, on the street and in the shopping malls," said Rajinder Singh Mago, the co-coordinator of the event who introduced the interfaith speakers.
Professor Kulwant Singh Hundal, past president of Sikh Religious Society, Palatine; Raja-Ullah Quaraishi of Muslim community; Rabbi Stephen Hart of Temple Chai, Long Grove,; Gurleen Kaur Singh a high school student; Pastor Melissa Earley of First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights; Patrick Watson representing NWSOFA; Maria Pike, #Everytown Fellow and Survivor Engagement Lead,; Surinder Kaur Singh, a social worker; Brently Donaldson, a Bahai; and Asayo Horbe, a Buddhist spoke at the event.
Patrick Watson read a pledge and call to action to educate legislators to work on stricter gun laws to end senseless gun violence.
Reading of the 26 victims names by Kimberley Garnett and Prempal Singh preceded lighting of candles and a moment of silence to honor the victims.
Matt Flamm of Palatine Township representing NWSOFA, thanked all the guests, participants and the organizers.
All the participants of the event were invited to partake "langar" the community kitchen vegetarian meal.
The event in partnership with NWSOFA, was coordinated by Rajinder Singh Mago, Laddi Singh, Dr. Balwant Singh Hansra, Prempal Singh, Sarwan Singh Raju, Jasvir Kaur Singh, Iqbal Singh Chopra, and Surinderpal Singh Kalra, for the Sikh Religious Society, Palatine.
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