By Caroline Anderson
DELHI–It’s sunset on the day after a massacre. I’m standing in a Sikh temple in Delhi, India, wanting so badly to tell the Sikh men and women here that I’m sorry – that I’m ashamed at what happened to their Sikh brothers and sisters in the U.S.
The shooting in Wisconsin happened in a Gurdwara, the Punjabi word for temple, just like this one.
I realize that I first walked in to the temple with a frown on my face. It has been a long day – it’s hot, a motorcycle almost hit me and a man purposefully ran into me on the street.
I realize these are all trivial things and I have a chance to show Christ’s love to a people who are hurting because of this tragedy.
Everyone’s eyes are on me. Granted, I’m the only Westerner in the temple. I wonder if they’re thinking, is she different? Is she American? Does she think we are Muslims too?
My facial expressions change after this realization. I smile and look people in the eyes. I smiled and said “dhanwad,” thank you in the Punjabi language, to the woman I gave my shoes to before entering the temple. She held my gaze and broke out into a smile.
I say “Sat Sri Akaal Ji,” the customary Sikh greeting, to an older woman as I entered the temple. As soon as I said this, her face changed from a scowl to a smile.
A man with a neatly wrapped blue turban approaches me and introduces himself. I tell him I’m studying Sikhism.
“I am a Sikh history teacher!” he says excitedly. “Let me teach you!”
He leads me to the balcony of the temple and as the sun sets, he tells me the history of this temple. It is a memorial to a massacre.
One of the Sikh gurus was beheaded near the temple hundreds of years ago by the Mughuls, Muslim descendants of Genghis Khan.
This gurdwara is his tomb.
My new friend asks where I’m from. I first tell him I live in Thailand. I wasn’t sure if telling him I’m from the U.S., where six Sikhs were just killed, would hurt our friendship.
But, I decided to tell him, so he’d know all Americans don’t act like the shooter in Wisconsin.
My telling him I’m American didn’t change anything. He then asks to take my friends and I to a Sikh museum and we have plans to meet with him later this week.
Later, I take a seat, joining dozens of men and women, facing the platform that hosts their holy scriptures.
A man sitting next to me helps explain the rituals as they unfold. There is music from the Ragis, the temple singers, the congregational prayer and the recitation of scripture.
This man’s son lives in New York and he’s been to visit him there.
Earlier that day, I met with a former Sikh who became a Christian. He mentioned the shooting and his sadness over what happened. He didn’t dwell on it – his main mission that day was to see that his Sikh brothers and sisters find Christ like he did.
I’ve learned Sikhs don’t judge a people by the actions of one. A Sikh businessman told me people’s individual choices are their own.
I’ve learned this week in India that Sikhs are a kind, hospitable and generous people.
They’ve been some of the only people here who’ve approached me on the street and ask if I need directions or assistance.
This week Sikhs have given me free rides in auto rickshaws and others wouldn’t let me pay the full fare in taxis when they hear I’m learning about Sikhism. Sikh men don’t stare at me lustfully like many men in India do. In Sikhism, women are equal and to be respected.
Sikhs have invited me into their businesses for tea and have made me feel at home in India.
I’m blessed to have met Sikhs. I pray they’ll see the same kindness in me and in Americans.
I pray they’ll see the light of Christ in me and want to know more. Sikhs are seekers of truth – it’s part of their beliefs. I pray they’ll seek the ultimate Truth.
I pray you’ll take the time to meet a Sikh.
For more about Sikhism see Explore.
Download the printable Praying for Sikhs.
Learn how to share the Good News with Sikhs at sikhoutreach.org.