UCF Sikh students grieve and learn from temple shooting tragedy

While news coverage of the shooting rampage at a Sikh religious center is waning, the Central Florida Sikh community is grieving and attempting to learn from the tragedy.

Simranjeet Singh, a UCF physics graduate student, was about to go to gurdwara (the place of worship for Sikhs) and read about it on his news app while he was in downtown Orlando. He said he couldn’t believe the news.

“Think about it, it is Sunday,” Simranjeet said. “People go around 10:30, 12 o’clock, you read about it when most people will be there. This is someone’s family, I could have been there. It is shocking. A shocking feeling.“ As far as security measures, Simranjeet said the only course of action the temple should take is tolerance. 

“In long-term, you cannot make any religious temple like an airport, right?” Simranjeet said. “It is a place of worship, a place of confidence in each other. I don’t think this is possible in any religious place. It has to be confidence-building in society.” The tragedy, Simranjeet said, is an opportunity to educate the community about Sikhism and what they believe in. Simranjeet’s fiancée, Jyoti Katoch, also a physics graduate student, said the casualties could have been more had the shooter come around noon when most of the congregation would have been there, including elders and youth who serve a communal meal every Sunday called langar.

“Sometimes the kids help out the elders, and you learn from this, that you have to respect elders,” Katoch said.“This is something that I really like about the whole thing. They try to learn not just from reading books, they learn how to serve the community and respect elders. “

Taranjeet said the final prayer in the gurdwara is a prayer to God for the world, the last line of which is ‘By Your grace, everyone should be happy.’ Taranjeet expressed his sadness that the shooter didn’t even try to understand what was taking place in the gurdwara when he went on his shooting rampage.

“We are praying for him,” Taranjeet said. On Sunday, the Sikh Society of Central Florida held day of remembrance at their gurdwara in Oviedo. Over one hundred people, Sikh men in turbans and head coverings, women in colorful dupattas, or long scarfs, and representatives from different religious communities as well as local and federal law enforcement agencies gathered together to express their sadness, and support, for the Central Florida Sikh community.

Read the entire story from the Central Florida Future here.


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