The vigils were held at the Rajdhani Temple in Chantilly and Durga Temple in Fairfax Station.
The Hindu community of Northern Virginia, in association with Indian American Forum for Political Education, Loudon Interfaith BRIDGES, and multiple faith community and civic leaders organized interfaith vigils in response to the recent spurt of hate crimes.
The vigils were held on Sunday, March 12 at the Rajdhani Temple in Chantilly and Durga Temple in Fairfax Station. Government officials including Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also gathered with the community in a display of solidarity.
During the morning vigil at Durga Temple, Virginia Senator Dave Marsden and Delegate John Bell engaged in dialogue with the audience, assuring them of their safety – and made an appeal to local residents to participate in the local community. Organizers and government officials condemned the hate crimes, reinforcing that recent attacks and hate crimes are not reflective of American values. Community members Madan Gupta and Mr. Bhatt also spoke at the event.
The afternoon vigil at Rajdhani Temple drew a crowd of more than 300, according to a news statement. And, Pandit Amarnath Gupta performed the invocation. Many faith leaders including Ravi Aharam and Kishore Bala of the Hindu community, Prem Dadlani of the Sant Nirankari Mission, Linda Weaver from the Unitarian Congregation of Sterling, Cathy Norman representing the Methodist community, Rizwan Jaka from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and Paria Akhavan from the Bahai community were also attended the vigil.
Elected officials like Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Virginia Delegate Jennifer Boysco , Loudon County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Phyllis Randall were all present for the vigil and condemned bigotry, hatred and discrimination.
“We are all in this together,” Northam said in a news release. “This is a very diverse society. We need to be inclusive. And we need to be inclusive. And we need to raise our children to love all people – not just ones that are in their religion or from the same nation.”
“People are standing up and saying, ‘No, no Mr. President. This is not the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is not the United States of America that we know, that we love – and we are not going to accept what we’re seeing as being the new normal,” Northam added.
“On this day, and through these difficult times, let us further strengthen our resolve to ensure that all individuals are awarded the same dignity and respect regardless of who they are, how they worship, or who they love,” Senator Mark Warner sent his remarks with outreach representative Anh Phan.
Community leaders including Dr. Krishna Madiraju, Debasis Basak, Radwan Chowdhury and Muttu Natrajan and activists Subba Kolla and ManSimran Kaholon also participated in the vigil. The organizers called on elected officials and law enforcement to protect, reassure and educate the community on how to prevent issues of hate and intolerance.
“Hate cannot be countered by hate, but love. Violence cannot be countered by violence, but peace. Mutual understanding about our cultures will diminish hatred,” Satish Korpe, a senior organizer of the event and past president of Indian American Forum for Political Education, said.