CHARLOTTE--Charlotte's only Sikh temple opened its doors to the public Sunday, one week after a deadly shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple.
The local Sikh community decided to turn the tragedy into an opportunity. Temple members believe education is key.
In many ways, Sunday was a typical Sikh service. But remembering the lives lost in the Wisconsin shooting was on the top of everyone's mind.
"This could have happened anywhere. It could have happened right at our own temple," said Gureet Kaur.
Instead of building a wall and hiding in fear, Charlotte Sikh members are opened their doors and welcomed the community inside, in hopes of clearing many common misconceptions about their religion.
"The initial thing that most people think when they see a turban, which is the most visible part of our identity, people automatically assume that the turban is associated with terrorism," explained Ajay Singh.
But Singh said the Sikh religion couldn't be further from it. He said Sikhism represents peace, harmony and a love of everyone, acceptance of all religions.
Dozens of area residents and even the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department came Sunday to show their support.
Some attendees said it was time they met their Sikh neighbors. They said they were blown away by what they saw.
"Really the main thing was the warm welcome the incredible hospitality of this community and what a faith of dignity and what a faith of such a beautiful sense of self that you live in the world in service," said Rob Spach.
While the Sikh religion is shaken, members tell us they are fearless and determined to turn the horrific incident into something positive for this area
CMPD plans to meet with Sikh members over the next week to find out if there's anything they can do to make them feel more protected.