Living as a Sikh in Wisconsin - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Living as a Sikh in Wisconsin


MIDDLETON (WKOW) – Sikhs say since 9/11 people have become much more educated about their beliefs, which made Sunday's shooting at the Oak Creek Sikh temple.

There are more than 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S.

The community in Middleton grew from a few families worshiping at each others' homes to a few hundred worshiping at their own temple.

Balwinder Seerha owns Just in Time Machine Corporation in Middleton and has lived in the area with his family since the 80s.

"With 9/11, before people never cared to ask, ‘Where are you guys from?'"

That changed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While some Sikhs say they were actually harassed after being confused with Muslims, Seerha says he just got lots of questions.

"Are we Muslim? What part of India are you from? What is Sikh?"

"In elementary school, I always felt like the odd one out being the only child who wears a turban in my school district," says Balwinder's son, Ivarej.

The Seerha family planned to be at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek the day of a shooting that killed six people.

"We were just getting ready when our friend called and said, ‘Don't go,'" says Balwinder's wife, Raji.

Balwinder's aunt was already there.

"She was in the kitchen when the guy came in and shot with both hands, but none of the bullets hit the women. They ducked down and hid themselves."

"Right now, it's like the whole community is scared," says Balwinder.

But they're not acting out in anger. They're responding in prayer

"When we do prayers, we ask for goodness and peace for the whole world. Not the community but the whole world," Raji says.

They'll be continuing those prayers Tuesday night during special services at the Sikh temple in Middleton from 7-9 p.m.

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