Interfaith prayers for Las Vegas victims

A section of attendees
SIKh 1 web
Dr Balwant Singh Hansra opened the program.

CHICAGO: The Sikh Religious Society in Palatine, Illinois, organized a prayer service and candlelight vigil in remembrance of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. 58 persons died and nearly 500 were injured in one of the worst mass shootings outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, on the night of October 1. Despite a rainy workday evening, more than 150 members of various faith groups and leaders surrounded by people of goodwill gathered to pray and honor the victims of this horrific massacre of innocent souls enjoying an outdoor music concert.

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, “This world is burning with hatred, O’ God please save it with your blessings and mercy in whichever way it can be saved.”

Twelve speakers, representing the Sikh, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Christian, Hindu, 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.

“As we all continue to pray and support the victims and families of the Las Vegas shooting, we must also vow to do more to combat the underlying problems associated with these types of mass killings,” said Amrith Kaur, Legal Director of Sikh Coalition in her speech at the vigil.

Dr. Balwant Singh Hansra opened the program. Dr. Pardeep Singh Gill, executive secretary of Sikh Religious Society, welcomed the guests.

“This gathering is against hate and violence and has deep respect for human life. We believe that we are all one,” said Rajinder Singh Mago, who introduced the interfaith speakers.

SIKH Attendeds
A section of attendees

Among those who spoke at the event were Rohinton Rivetna of Zoroastrian center in Burr Ridge, Chris Vodden Director of Bahai Temple Wilmette IL, Amrith Kaur of Sikh Coalition, Imam Shaikh Nazir Chahin of Islamic Society Northwest Suburbs Rolling Meadows, Christine Organ and Jules Jaramillo of Countryside Unitarian Universalist Church in Palatine, IL, Pandit Anil Joshi, priest at Hindu Mandir of Lake County Grayslake, Rev. Wayne Miller president of Council of Religious leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and also Bishop at Metropolitan Chicago Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Mbdullah Mitchell Executive Director of The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, Caryn Fliegler of Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Maria Pike of Moms Demand Action and Every Town Survivor Network, Bill Davis of Northwest Suburbs Organizing for Action, and Prof. Jaginder Singh Ramdev. There also were several calls to action by #MomsDemandAction, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and #EveryTownSurvivorNetwork, for stricter gun laws.

Laddi Singh thanked the event supporting organizations and their leadership who attended the vigil.
After the candlelight vigil, which included a reading of the names of the 58 victims by Jasvir Kaur Singh and Prempal Singh, 58 candles were lighted by children one for each victim, followed by lighting of candles by all in attendance.

Standing in solidarity against hatred and violence, and to honor the victims, a moment of silence led by Thakar Singh Basati was observed to honor the dead. Sarwan Singh Raju 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 was coordinated by Rajinder Singh Mago and Dr Balwant Singh.

Surendra Ullal

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