Tauranga Sikh parade huge hit

By Sandra Conchie

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Nearly 5000 Sikhs gathered to celebrate the birth of one of their revered gurus in colourful fashion during the third annual street parade in Tauranga on Saturday.

Hosted by Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga, the parade began from the Burrows St temple and took two-and-a-half hours to meander through the streets, before heading back to the temple for an afternoon of free food, refreshments and entertainment.

The event is part of Indian ritual to mark the birth of revered Guru Gobind Singh, who in 1699 transformed the Sikh religion after succeeding his father as Sikh religious leader at age 9.

To view our photo gallery of the day, scroll below.

Parade organiser Daljit Singh said: "It was a really, really good event, with nearly 5000 gathered here, that's almost double last year's attendance.

" As well people from Tauranga, Te Puke, Katikati, Waihi, we had some from Rotorua, Whakatane, Hamilton and Auckland.

It was a great turnout."

Mr Singh said along the way free food and drinks were also handed out.

"The feedback from all the people [on the street] was fantastic. People were telling us they especially liked all the colour and cultural parts ... Some told us they had never seen anything like this before and wanted to know more... It's exactly the response we were looking for."

Mr Singh said the celebrations was also attended by a number of dignitaries.

That included Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, and general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sukhev Singh Baur, who travelled from India, he said.

"A big thank you to Kelvin and Simon who joined us for the celebrations, also to Tauranga City Council which gave us permission to hold the parade."

Mr Singh said flyers were also handed out to the crowd.

"We had a lots of phone calls from people wanting to know more ... Next time we plan to get more than 10,000 people involved and hopefully we can persuade John Key to officially open the celebrations for us."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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