The leader of a Westchester County Sikh temple hopes that the deadly mass shooting in Oak Creek, WI, will lead to greater awareness among the public about his faith.
Chappaqua resident Dr. Mahinderjit Singh, weighing in on Sunday's deaths, said he thinks "it will only educate them."
Singh also called for President Barack Obama to visit a Sikh temple and take a chance to educate the public.
"It's a tragedy," Singh said about the shooting.
The shooting in Wisconsin claimed the lives of several at the temple, according to Oak Creek Patch, with the gunman having been shot and killed by police. The gunman to be Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old Army veteran who lived in nearby Cudahy. He is
Singh, who was born in Burma and raised in India, has lived in the United States since 1982. He has lived in Chappaqua for 12 years, and helms the Sikh Gurdwara Of Westchester New York Inc.
The congregation is small, with turnout for services that can reach the 40-50 person range, for those who use Singh's Chappaqua home for services. The gurdwara was previously located in rental space in Valahalla but moved out last year for economic reasons, according to Singh. He has been supporting the congregation's existence out of pocket. Singh's religious role is part time, as he is also a psychiatrist in Mount Vernon.
Anecdotally, Singh noted that Sikh's face a misconception that they are Muslim, with male usage of turbans being a reason. This case of mistaken religion has led to reprisals since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by the radical Islamic group Al Qaeda, according to media reports. Sikh males, however, wear the turbans as a religious obligation.
Singh also wants people to know that Sikhs are peaceful. They are, he said, "the loving people of one god."
Sikhism was founded in the 15th century on the Indian subcontinent by Guru Nanak.
Singh also described his faith as a tolarent one.
"We do not condemn any religion," he said.
Singh also talked about his family involvement in Chappaqua. His son, Harjup, is a rising senior at, and has been involved with the . His daughter, Gurjup, is a rising sophomore at Greeley. He lives with his children and his wife.
Updates about the temple shooting can be found here at Oak Creek Patch.