Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Thousands to turn out for parade marking birth of Sikh leader

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Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga members: Sandeep Kaur (left), Gyan Kaur, Ramandeep Kaur, Balbir Kaur, Puran Singh and Sukhdev Kaur preparing sweet treats for the street parade. Photo / George Novak
Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga members: Sandeep Kaur (left), Gyan Kaur, Ramandeep Kaur, Balbir Kaur, Puran Singh and Sukhdev Kaur preparing sweet treats for the street parade. Photo / George Novak

More than 3000 Sikhs will march through the streets of Tauranga on Saturday to celebrate the birthday of a great Sikh guru who was responsible for transforming their faith.

The third annual parade, hosted by Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga, starts from the Brook Street temple at 11.30am and is expected to take two hours.

It is part of Indian ritual to mark the birth of revered Sikh leader Guru Gobind Singh.

Event spokesperson Puran Singh said it would be the third year Tauranga City Council had granted permission for the parade.

Last year, more than 2500 people took part.

Mr Singh said more than 3000 people would participate before heading back to the temple to continue the celebrations, with free food and non-alcoholic drinks for everyone.

Sikhs from Tauranga, Waihi, Katikati, Te Puke, Rotorua and Whakatane, plus some from Hamilton, Matamata and the Coromandel were coming to the celebrations, he said.

"Tauranga has the largest Sikh community after Auckland, which will be holding a similar parade. For us, this is the biggest event on our religious calender and we're all very excited."

Mr Singh said the day starts with traditional food and drinks, such as rose water and Indian sweets, and blessings before the street parade begins.

The procession of trucks, cars and people on foot would be led by Te Puke Pipe Band, and a group of chosen men performing ancient martial arts to give thanks to their guru, he said.

The parade heads down 14th Avenue, past Fraser St, along Devonport Rd to 11th Avenue roundabout, into Fraser St, then 13th Avenue and back to the temple.

Mr Singh said free food and drinks would be handed out to spectators along the way.

"It's a very peaceful, colourful and joyous event, and everyone is invited to join us at the temple to share the free food and drinks and participate in the rest of the celebrations. This event is about sharing our religion, culture and traditions with the rest of the community, and bringing the different cultures closer together so we can all live in harmony and peace."

Mr Singh said among the dignitaries attending was Sukhev Singh Bhaur, who travelled from India. Mr Bhaur is general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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