Embodying Ik Oankaar

lt. brian murphy


Vaheguroo Jee Ka Khalsa, Vaheguroo Jee Kee Fateh!

August 5th, 2012. I remember that I was driving back from a blissful weekend at New York Smaagam that day, and made a pitstop at a food rest area to fill up on snacks and drinks. I glanced around looking at the endless options of junk food, subconsciously singing shabads I had heard just the night before, as I noticed everyone’s eyes in the rest area, on the TV screen above. I turned around and saw the news with the headlines, “Sikh Temple Shooting in Wisconsin.”

My initial reaction was that this could not be happening… how could the most safest, holiest places for the Sikhs, be under attack in the United States of America? It reminded me back to the events of 1984, where Sikhs were being attacked in India at Harmandar Sahib for our religious background–because we were Sikh. It brought a sudden reality that even in this day and age, where we would never imagine that our brothers and sisters would face tragedy by an individual on the opposite side of a gun, would once again, end up taking a bullet for practicing religious freedom.

There were six people that were killed in this deadly shooting by a white supremacist: Paramjit Kaur, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Prakash Singh, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, and Suveg Singh. Instead of the Oak Creek shooting being just another tragedy and hate-crime for the Sikh people of Wisconsin, it was something more. It did not unite just the people of Oak Creek, or the people of the United States. It united people from all religious backgrounds of different ages and unique individuals from all societies.

A few days following the shooting, Gurudwaras from across the nation held candlelight vigils in honor of the victims from Oak Creek. People from all different backgrounds came in to show their love, support, and solidarity. A nationwide event called The Day of Seva, was established by the Sikh Coalition in memory of Wisconsin. I participated in the seva event as well. The Day of Seva gave me an opportunity to engage in selfless community service and an opportunity to show that not just me, but the entire nation is with the Oak Creek community in spirit.

As tragic as Oak Creek was, it brought various ethno-religious communities together. Being able to stand in solidarity with Sikhs and see solidarity all around us was an incredible experience of standing as One and embodying Ik Oankaar–the Divine Light is in all.

Vaheguroo Jee Ka Khalsa, Vaheguroo Jee Kee Fateh!

Keerat Kaur is a second year student at UNC Charlotte, currently pursuing a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology. She hopes to use her studies as a way of using mediation, advocacy, and community organizing to construct projects for engaging with minority groups in the US. Keerat is actively involved in the Sikh community as a volunteer advocate for the Sikh Coalition, Web Content Director of Portraits of Sikhs, and an intern for Dasvandh Network.


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