What’s satisfying about this job is that I get to step into another world every once in a while. One that’s not too far away from my own, but just around the corner.
Drive near the Thrashers Corner area of Bothell, look for the Sikh Centre of Seattle sign — jutting out from the tree-lined road at 20412 Bothell-Everett Highway — and turn in and be welcomed into a community that maybe you didn’t know much about.
It’s a shame that I wasn’t familiar with this spot before, and that I made my way here because the local Sikhs were holding a candlelight vigil for some of their own who were gunned down in Wisconsin earlier this month.
Last Saturday night, I was greeted warmly by the people there, offered a cup of tea and some conversation about what happened in Wisconsin and how the local Sikhs are dealing with the tragedy.
I was one of them for a while. Sikhs don turbans to signify their commitment to their religion and respect for their forefathers; I was given an orange bandanna to wear on my head out of respect for them, as well.
Each speaker during the vigil had a heartfelt message to give the crowd of about 200 Sikhs and some guests who were present to support those they didn’t know beforehand. I know that I left the vigil having gained some invaluable knowledge about a religion founded in India about 500 years ago.
Speaker Lovenoor Aulck discussed that Sikh history featured warriors and spiritual leaders, both of whom fought against religious oppression through strength of body and mind.
“(We need to) understand the determination that our forefathers had to persevere through all obstacles, and yet at the same time have love and compassion for our fellow man… We cannot be victims of this attack, but instead survivors thereof,” he said.
Karanvir Dhillon told the crowd that the Wisconsin shooting and the recent Colorado cinema massacre shattered the positive outlook that he holds for humanity. He values love, art, creativity, science and progress.
Attending and speaking at the vigil helped him get through those dark thoughts.
“Today, looking at everybody in the audience right now, standing together in unity, I see hope in all the eyes in front of me, hope that compassion will prevail over hate,” he said.