The Avenues were flooded in colour and culture as the fourth annual Sikh parade made its way through the streets.

Nearly 4000 people flocked to Tauranga to celebrate the birth of one of India's most revered spiritual leaders on Saturday.

Sikhs came from Te Puke, Katikati, Waihi, Hamilton and Whakatane to mark the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the last of 10 Sikh gurus.

Washing the streets ahead of the Sikh parade in Tauranga. Photo/Andrew Warner
Washing the streets ahead of the Sikh parade in Tauranga. Photo/Andrew Warner

His contribution to Sikhism included the tradition of covering one's hair with a turban.

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The bright spectacle of a procession of thousands of Sikhs on foot and in trucks went from the Sikh temple, known as Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga on Burrows St, along the city's streets to Devonport Rd and back again with those involved handing out drinks and food along the way.

Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times at the temple, under fluttering, colourful flags with the smell of cooking wafting from the temple kitchen, Charanjt Singh said it was all about paying respect to the 10th guru.

"We are so far from our culture in India, so this parade shows our new generations growing up here about our culture. It keeps it alive," he said.

Sikh's young and old at the annual parade. Photo/Andrew Warner
Sikh's young and old at the annual parade. Photo/Andrew Warner

He said the event was celebrated worldwide and in Guru Gobind Singh's birthplace in Patna, eastern India, there were tens of millions celebrating. It was a three-day public holiday there, from January 3-5.

Mr Singh said it was a three-day celebration in Tauranga, too. The parade was one of the events but there was plenty of food going around all weekend.

"It's been a real community effort with a lot of volunteers and donations. Turners and Growers donated 100 kilograms of onions and potatoes to us," he said.

To further mark the occasion there was a continuous non-stop recital of prayers at the temple, called Akhand Path.

A team of readers had been reciting religious Sikh text since 10am Friday and finished at 10am Sunday.

GURU GOBIND SINGH
- 10th Sikh guru, a spiritual leader, poet, philosopher and warrior
- Born December 22, 1666 in Patna, India (celebrations take place in January based on the Nanakshahi calendar)
- This year marks the 350th anniversary of his birth
- He started the Khalsa order, the highest order to be reached by Sikhs, where worshippers are initiated and women take the title of Kaur (princess) and men the title of Singh (lion)
- The last living Sikh guru
- Inspired people against social disparities, injustice and tyranny