Thousands of mourners were expected to gather Friday morning to pay their final respects to the six worshippers gunned down by a white supremacist at their Sikh temple over the weekend in the central US state of Wisconsin.
A former Army veteran, 40-year-old Wade Michael Page, killed five men and a woman at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shortly before Sunday services, before shooting himself in the head.
US Attorney General Eric Holder will join mourners from around the world for the Friday service, which will include prayers and hymns. Afterward mourners plan to return to the temple and begin a traditional rite called “akhand path,” a ceremony that involves a series of priests reading the holy book aloud from cover to cover. The process, which takes 48 hours, is intended to honor the memories of the six victims.
“We want to pay homage to the spirits who are still in there,” said Harpreet Singh, the nephew of one of the victims.
Other dignitaries expected to attend the funeral include Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and US Congressman Paul Ryan.
Those killed in the shooting included Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, the temple president who was shot as he tried to fend off Page with a butter knife.
The other victims included:
— Ranjit Singh, 49, and his 41-year-old brother, Sita Singh, two priests whose families were back in India and whose lives in America revolved around their faith;
— Suveg Singh Khattra, 84, a former farmer in India who was a constant presence at the temple;
— Prakash Singh, 39, a priest who was remembered as a fun-loving personality who enjoyed telling jokes; and
— Paramjit Kaur, 41 who worked 66 hours a week to provide for her family, but also found time to pray every day for at least an hour.
The FBI had roped off the temple for four days while agents conducted their investigation. They handed the keys back to Sikh leaders Thursday morning, and workers spent the entire day cleaning up, repairing bullet damage and repainting walls.