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Local Sikhs hold memorial service in wake of Wisconsin shooting

WBFO News by Mike Desmond

Music and prayer filled the Sikh Cultural and Educational Society in Williamsville Monday night as members and friends memorialized those killed on Sunday in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

Members of the Gurdwara prayed for peace and for submission to the one God.  Men and women in the congregation led prayers as they moved from member to member in centuries-old prayers.

Board member Devender Singh is a dentist in Lockport who came here for further dental training and stayed to practice his profession and raise a family. Singh says he believes in American values, not what happened.

"The reason we are talking about it is because we are fair-minded people. You wouldn't be interviewing if this were a country where people were day in and day out killed because of what they believe in. We are not supposed to do that. That's exactly why we are talking today, a day after what has happened," said Singh.

Other religions and organizations were there to support the Sikhs in their time of grief. Father John Paul Boyer is ecumenical interfaith officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.  Boyer says he is a Christian but could agree with much of what was prayed for during the memorial.

"I heard people talking about surrendering to the will of God," Boyer said.  "I heard people talking about the need to love and lose the selfish part of being human."

Sikh Cultural and Educational Society in Williamsville

There aren't a lot of Sikhs in this area, but they are highly visible because of male turbans and beards, required by their religion.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.