All the colour and some of the cultural traditions of India were on show at the weekend as thousands turned out to take part in the inaugural Tauranga Sikh Parade.

The street parade, held on Saturday, was hosted by Tauranga Sikh Sangat Temple and was part of a traditional Indian ritual to mark the birth of the religion's revered 10th leader, Guru Gobind Singh.

The 2500-strong crowd made its way along Burrows St and through several Avenues streets before heading back to the Sikh temple to continue the celebrations, which included prayers and free food and drinks for everyone.

The parade was led by a group of 10 specially selected men who were carrying swords and sticks and who performed an ancient Indian martial art form called Gatka, giving thanks to their guru.


At the start of the procession water was also showered on the roadway to purify the path for a truck carrying the holy book of Sikh followers.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and Tauranga City Council member Kevin Clout were honoured guests.

Organiser Jasneet Bola said the parade had been conducted several times in Auckland but this was the first time it had been held in Tauranga.

Sikhs from Te Puke, Papamoa, Hamilton, Rotorua and Auckland had also travelled to participate in the event.

"Our community is really, really happy about how everything went, particularly the response from spectators and our invited guests. We were so excited about doing this and everyone chipped in to help fund each part of the service so it wasn't such a big burden on any one person," she said.

Ms Bola said the preparations included mixing 70kg of dough to make thousands of japatis, [Indian bread] and decorating two trucks, including the one holding the holy book.

Free food and non-alcoholic drinks were also handed out to spectators along the way, who were also invited to join in the celebrations, she said.

"Every person contributed to the parade's success in some way, and all the many hours of preparation was so worth it.

"We definitely plan to host the parade in Tauranga again next year."

Mr Bridges said the event was a "great display of colour and culture".