On August 5, 2012, a neo-Nazi walked into a Gurdwara (Sikh House of Worship) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and massacred worshippers inside, taking six lives and permanently altering the lives of many others. This tragedy was not the first or last time Sikh Americans were targeted, but it underscored the importance of educating our fellow Americans about our traditions and values.
On March 2, 2020, Baba Punjab Singh–who, for more than seven years, remained partially paralyzed from being shot in the head during the attack–passed away at the age of 72.
In memory of Satwant Singh Kaleka, Suveg Singh Khattra, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Prakash Singh, Paramjit Kaur, and Baba Punjab Singh, who lost their lives, and to promote awareness and appreciation of the Sikh American community, the Sikh Coalition encourages its supporters throughout the United States to devote at least one day each year to seva (selfless service). Seva is an integral part of the Sikh religious tradition and a timeless idea, which brings people together and helps them celebrate their common humanity.
- consecutive years of seva
- participating cities
- 's volunteers
Since the launch of the Day of Seva project in 2013, hundreds of volunteers in 50 cities throughout the United States have prepared numerous meals for the homeless, built homes, cleaned neighborhood parks, and partnered with other communities on charity drives in honor of the lives lost at the Oak Creek Gurdwara.
How You Can Help
This August, the Oak Creek sangat will host events in Wisconsin to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the shooting. If you live near Oak Creek (particularly in Wisconsin or Illinois), we strongly encourage you to try and make it to Oak Creek in person during the weekend of August 5-7, 2022. In addition, the Sikh Coalition invites sangats nationwide to come together and choose one or more of the following ways to honor the anniversary in conjunction with the Oak Creek sangat:
1) National Day of Seva: Organize a seva project in your community. Ask your sangat and non-Sikh neighbors alike to take part in seva and celebrate the resilience of the Sikh community. For details on how to organize a seva event, click here. Make sure to submit your seva project to the Sikh Coalition so that we can add it to our national map and help you share your work with local media!
2) National Night of Vigil: Organize an evening vigil at your local gurdwara. Invite elected officials, interfaith partners, allies, and neighbors to attend, speak, pray, and stand with Sikhs in solidarity against hate and violence.
3) Support Policy Asks: Mobilize your sangat to take concrete actions to combat hate and prevent discrimination. More information about how you can make your voices heard through civic engagement is coming soon!
“Seva is of utmost importance in Gurbaani thought and the Sikh way of life. Commemorating National Day of Seva was a great opportunity for us to nurture these values in our youth, who were heavily involved in this seva project, so that they may continue to do seva throughout their lives and continue giving back to the community.”
Surinder Singh, Fairfax Station, Virginia