Members of Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar in Southington had just finished their Sunday prayers when they got word that a gunman had entered a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and killing seven people and injuring dozens more.
, a Southington resident who co-founded , a Sikh Temple on West Street, condemned today's shooting.
"It is very sad," he said. "It is ignorant."
This is just one of the reactions from a member of the Sikh community in Connecticut, which plans on honoring the victims with prayers and vigils this week.
Vishwanath Sharma ji, a priest at the Shri Shirdi Sai Temple of CT in Middletown, said his temple will pray for the victims of the shooting during its services this Thursday.
Also, Surinder Singh Chawla, general secretory of the Connecticut Sikh Association Inc., said Monday that the organization is putting together a candlelight vigil and prayer to honor the victims.
Details of the vigil will be finalized later this week, organizers said. Patch will publish details as soon as they become available.
"On behalf of Connecticut Sikh Association Inc. (Sikh Temple, Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar), we extend our prayers and our condolences to the families of the victims, the family of the suspect(s) and all those who have been impacted by this tragedy at Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara," Chawla said.
"We also pray for and offer our sincere thanks to all first responders of the Oak Creek Police Department along with all other law enforcement agencies, and all those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect the people of Sikh community."
While many details are still forthcoming in the Oak Creek investigation, including a motive and the lone gunman's identity, Bharara saw the tragedy as only one thing: a hate crime.
"People do not understand what Sikhism is," he said. "Sometimes we are confused with other religions."
Bharara was alluding to the common misconception that Sikhs are Muslims — due to the fact that Sikhs wear turbans in accordance with their Indian-based faith — and to the extremists who have tarnished that religion's reputation in the post 9/11 world.
The best way to combat that lack of knowledge is education, Bharara said. And in light of today's events, he added, mainstream media should launch a series of public education pieces on Sikhs.
Bharara and his fellow Sikhs will also turn to prayer. "Of course, we have to do that," he said.
"May their souls rest in peace," he said of the victims. "Somehow God will provide support for the families who lost their loved ones."
Bharara and other members of the Sikh community will gather Monday night at their Southington Temple to pray together.
They will also continue to live their lives in accordance with their faith, and that means they will continue to work toward the betterment of society, with respect for all people and creeds.
For Bharara, a member of the Southington Interfaith Clergy Association who also serves on the board of the local food pantry, Bread for Life, he will continue to support organizations in the community.
"We believe we should live in harmony and support each other," he said.
Bharara is also busy organizing a Hamden Temple, Gurdwara Sachkhand Darbar, which received .
"We are trying to get families together in the greater New Haven and shore area. Word is getting around," he said. "I think, God willing, once we get established, we will be very active and do bigger and better things for the welfare of society as a whole."
Bharara added, "How do you fight evil? With goodness.”