More than 2000 Sikhs in colourful traditional dress marched or rode through the streets during the Tauranga Sikh Parade to mark the birthday of 10th Guru Gobin Singh Ji.

Today's street parade was hosted by the Tauranga Sikh Sangat Temple and was part of the annual Indian ritual to mark the birth of one of India's most revered spiritual leaders.

The parade began from the temple in Burrows St at 11 am and travelled down 14th Avenue towards Memorial Park, back to 13th Ave before returning to Burrows St.

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


A group of specially selected men armed with swords and sticks also performed an ancient martial art called Gatka giving thanks to their guru.

Along the way, other residents from the local community who had come to watch the parade lined the streets and were handed free food and drink by the parade goers.

Tauranga Sikh Community president Puran Singh said about 3000 Sikhs from the across the city and from out to town were expected to attend the celebrations during the day.

Sikhs from Te Puke, Pāpāmoa, Hamilton, Rotorua, Whakatāne, Hawke's Bay and Auckland also attended the parade and the birthday celebrations at the temple.

The event, two months in the planning followed by 10 days of preparations for the big day, began with thousands first gathering at the temple for share food and prayers.

Singh said the festival celebrated the "coming together of cultures".

"Today is about celebrating our God's birthday and sharing our culture with the rest of the community in peace and friendship, which is what our Guru teaches us to do," he said.

"It's a very big day for us and everyone is very excited to get the chance to do so. The
feedback from people on the streets has been fantastic, which is exactly what we want."

There were lots of "wows" from spectators as they watched the bright and colourful procession as thousands of Sikhs on foot and in trucks meandered through the streets.

This included Bethlehem couple Mike and Ouida Rice who also keenly joined in the celebrations at the temple after coming last year, they said.

"I think it's a wonderful event and I wouldn't miss it. Today a nice young man looked after us and explained everything to us. He made us feel so welcome," Ouida said.

A number of dignitaries, including National Party leader Simon Bridges, also attended.

Singh said he wanted to say a big thank you to Mainfreight trucks who supported the event and others in the community who also helped make it such a successful parade.