EXPLAINED: How you can honor Deputy Dhaliwal during traditional Sikh funeral ceremonies

By Tulsi Kamath - Digital Content Producer, Vincent Crivelli - Reporter

HOUSTON - The first of the final ceremonies for Sikh Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal began Monday ahead of his funeral on Wednesday.

Dhaliwal, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, was killed Friday when he was shot in the back of the head during a traffic stop in northwest Harris County. The deputy made history in 2015 as the first Texas law enforcement officer to be allowed to wear a dastaar (turban) and keep a beard, among other articles of his faith, while on duty. 

With the public invited to attend and participate in honoring Dhaliwal, here's an explanation of the different aspects of his funeral and how best members of the public may participate in them. 

Akhand Path Sahib  

The Akhanda Path Sahib is a two-day nonstop prayer vigil for Dhaliwal at a Sikh temple, known as a Gurdwara. Monday afternoon, a Granthi began reading aloud the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text of Sikhism. A Granthi is a member of the Sikh faith who reads the text and is considered a principal religious official in the Sikh community, akin to a priest. It typically takes two full days to read the text and the reading will go nonstop until Wednesday afternoon.

KPRC

A 48-hour prayer vigil for Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal continues at the Gurdwara Sikh National Center in Houston on Oct. 1, 2019.

When: 3:30 p.m. Monday to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

Venue: Gurdwara Sikh National Center, 7500 N. Sam Houston Parkway West 

Can I attend? Yes. The public is invited to go to the Gurdwara and pray with members of the community and at times, with Dhaliwal's family members. There will also be food available for people coming to pray at the Gurdwara during the two-day vigil. 

Can I bring anything? If you want to take flowers or tokens of condolence, you can take them to the Gurdwara Sikh National Center. Committee Member Daljit Singh told KPRC a memorial will be set up for Dhaliwal where people may lay their wreaths and flowers down. 

What should I wear? A Gurdwara has strict dress code for people coming inside. Men and women are both asked to cover their heads with either a scarf or bandana and take their shoes off before going inside as marks of respect. 

KPRC

Mourners leave flowers and tokens of condolence at a memorial for Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal outside the Gurdwara Sikh National Center in Houston on Oct. 1, 2019.

I'm not Sikh. Is it okay for me to go inside? Yes. People of all faiths are welcome to pray with the community in honor of Dhaliwal at the Gurdwara Sikh National Center, Singh said. 

Public Viewing and Funeral Ceremony

On the day of the funeral, the first hour will be for a public viewing. Then, there will be Sikh funeral ceremonies for Dhaliwal. Singh told KPRC there will also be speakers from around the country coming to Houston to speak at the funeral. Following the traditional Sikh funeral, the Harris County Sheriff's Office will say goodbye and honor Dhaliwal.

When: 9:15 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Oct. 2

Venue: Berry Center, 8877 Barker Cypress Road

Can I attend? Yes, it is open to the public (space permitting) 

What should I wear? People attending the funeral services for Dhaliwal are asked to wear scarves or bandanas to cover their heads. In honor of the fallen officer, organizers have asked that the head-coverings be blue.  

Cremation

Following the services, the family and members of HCSO will go to the Winford Funeral Home for the cremation. This will be closed to the public. 

Langar 

While Dhaliwal's family and members of the HCSO go the funeral home, the rest of the public is invited back to Gurdwara for Langar, a Sikh practice of communal meal. Singh told KPRC the Gurdwara is preparing meals for between 1,000 and 1,500 mourners.

When: 12:00 p.m. Wednesday 

Venue: Gurdwara Sikh National Center, 7500 N. Sam Houston Parkway West 

Can I attend? Yes, this is open to the public. 

Can I bring anything? If you want to take flowers or tokens of condolence, you can place them at the memorial set up for Dhaliwal.

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