Focused on forgiveness, worshippers reflect on the Sikh Temple destroyed by arson 20 years ago in Central Square

Local News

CENTRAL SQUARE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — November 18, 2001 is a day that is both hard to forget and difficult to reflect on for Ralph Singh.

“Someone torched our place of worship,” explained Singh, who is the Founding President of Gobind Sadan, USA. On that day the Sikh Temple was destroyed.

“We went up there and the place was hanging heavy with not just soot, but heavy with the power of hate,” Singh recalled.

The arson occurring two months after the attacks on 9/11 because the teens who set the fire did not understand what this place of worship stood for.

“These children thought, because of the hysteria, Sikh turbans represented followers of Bin Laden and they were doing their patriotic duty,” Singh said.

From the moment they saw the fire they all forgave them. They have even kept in contact with some of those involved. The message back then is still the same now: We should practice forgiveness and be inclusive.

“We can all live together in one community even if we don’t agree. And we don’t,” Singh added, “There are so many things we don’t agree with, but we can respect each others’ opinions and be in community with love.”

It’s a lesson that continues to stand the test of time.

While the 100-year-old building was destroyed, the Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, was not damaged. It continues to be a symbol of hope and this story about it has been shared around the world.

There will be a special gathering to celebrate the anniversary of the response of forgiveness will take place November 13th. If you would like to attend pre-registration is required due to COVID restrictions. To pre-register, email Singh at ralph@gobindsadan.org

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