Oak Creek (Wisconsin):  Hundreds of mourners, Sikhs and others, policemen and religious leaders, men and women gathered on Friday to pay their last respects to six worshippers gunned down at a Sikh gurdwara on Sunday.

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With tears in their eyes and pain in their hearts, they filed by six open caskets Friday morning at Oak Creek High School gymnasium, which opened its doors before 9 a.m. for the lengthening line of mourners.

Taking their shoes off, placing scarves on their heads, the mourners made their way past the simple wooden caskets with photographs of the fallen placed on easels at the head of each casket, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

"Oh, dear God, please forgive me in this life," a Sikh priest told the mourners. "We pray for the departed souls," he said. "Give us the strength to bear this loss."US Attorney General Eric Holder, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and representatives of the Sikh community and families are expected to speak to the mourners. Then a series of priests will read the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib from cover to cover for 48 hours in a rite honouring the dead called "Akhand Path.

"Prabhjot Singh, co-founder and trustee of the Sikh Coalition, said that Friday's visitation represents a time of healing and paying respects for those killed in Sunday's attack on the Sikh gurdwara.

"The religious ceremonies will be done privately over the next weeks," Prabhjot Singh said as mourners walked by the open caskets of the six killed - gurdwara president Satwant Singh Kaleka and Paramjit Kaur, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh and Suveg Singh.

Men and women sat cross-legged on the floor before the caskets with women in salwar-kameez, their heads covered in dupattas of various colours,  bright orange, turquoise, and most of all, white sitting separately.

The temple's head priest, Gurmel Singh, who was there the day of the shooting, presided over the visitation with mourners coming in and passing by a small dais where tree men were chanting religious hymns and playing instruments.

Images of the dead and wounded rotated on a large screen, including the photo of Oak Creek police Lt. Brian Murphy. First on the scene, Murphy was shot at least eight times by the lone gunman in the attack and remains hospitalised. His condition has been upgraded to satisfactory.

(Agencies)

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