LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The Sikh faith is an offshoot of Hinduism, according to practicing Hindus Ayesha and Vikas Patnaik.
The Patnaiks say they've always viewed the Sikh religion as very peaceful.
They say Sikhs are monotheistic, and place a heavy emphasis on charity and giving back to their communities.
So Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek left them stunned.
"For me it was not the fact that this happened in a Sikh temple, specifically, but rather the fact that an incident like this happened in our state," Ayesha says. "It really hits close to home."
"The Sikhs are a very generous community, a very big hearted community," says Gulu Thadani, her father, who is currently visiting La Crosse from India.
"Why would anybody do this? Target these people?" he adds.
Ayesha says making the weekend's tragedy is all the more shocking because it went against many of her previously held beliefs regarding our society.
"Our experience in La Crosse, in the Midwest and even generally in the United States has always been, you know, people have been welcoming, non-discriminatory and non-racial," she says.
Vikas says he believes the Sikhs may have been targeted because male followers of the religion wear turbans.
"We seem to not know very much about each other," he says, "especially people from different parts of the world."
"We go by visual cues like how people dress, but often those creates these boundaries," Vikas says. "The boundaries don't allow people to get past that mentality and really see there are more similarities than differences between us."
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