NEW ORLEANS -- The Sikh community in New Orleans paid its respects Wednesday to the six worshipers killed in Wisconsin Sunday.
Sikh worshipers say there are two goals with tonight’s ceremony: they want to honor those killed in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and they want to inspire a greater understanding of their religion.
“It’s to show that we are all one. We share their grief,” said Sikh worshiper Kalwander Benipal.
The heinous killings shook the entire Sikh community, a faith that believes in peace and equality for all mankind.
Inside the temple dozens gathered in solidarity to worship with holy songs and readings in a special memorial service.
Outside, a handful of deputies stood guard, though leaders at the Sikh temple say they took the precaution because the service was at night, and not just because of the chilling murders Sunday in Wisconsin.
“People ask, are you scared?” Benipal said. “I don’t have to be scared in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Some, like Prachi Syngal, visited the temple for the first time to stand with Sikh worshipers and honor those lost.
“After I heard what happened, I wanted to come and pay my respects,” Syngal said. “It’s not just about those people being from my country, it’s that they’re innocent people who had nothing to do with any kind of wrong."
One local group left a sign of their condolences at the gate of this New Orleans East temple.
Meanwhile, authorities are still searching for a motive in the Wisconsin killings. Since the alleged triggerman reportedly had ties to white supremacist ideology, Sikhs throughout the country are working to foster greater understanding of diverse cultures.
“To challenge ourselves and this nation, what can we do to improve or make this place more safer for a diverse group?” said Navdeep Singh Chawla, president of the Sikh Society of the South.
The victims in Wisconsin will be buried as early as Friday. If you would like to donate to the victim's memorial fund, log onto wearesikhs.com.