Wisconsin Sikh temple reopens doors as mourners ready for memorial

by Aug 10, 2012

OAK CREEK, Wisconsin (Reuters) - The Wisconsin Sikh temple where six worshippers were gunned down by a white supremacist reopened its doors on Thursday, as mourners from around the country converged on Oak Creek ahead of a public wake and private funerals.

Thousands are expected to attend Friday's wake at Oak Creek High School, where the bodies of the six victims will lie in repose, according to local Sikh leaders. Among those expected to attend were Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General Eric Holder.

"Grief shared is grief halved," said Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a spokesperson for the Sikh community in Milwaukee, referring to the dozens of vigils for the victims held throughout the nation this week.

"It restores our faith in humanity. We are overwhelmed by the response," he added.

Satwant Singh Kaleka, the 65-year-old president of the congregation, was among the victims. The others who died were Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; and Suveg Singh, 84.

The gunman, Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran with links to racist groups, also wounded three others seriously when he opened fire on worshipers Sunday morning. Page was shot in the stomach by a responding officer before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The two-hour wake will be held in the high school's gymnasium about two miles (3.2 km) south of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where the shooting occurred. Sikh religious leaders will lead prayers and hymns during the ceremony as a procession of mourners pass the bodies.

The wake will be followed by private funeral ceremonies in the afternoon at a crematorium.

Investigators, who are still searching for a motive, released the temple back to the Sikh congregation on Thursday morning.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Philip Barbara)

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