"We are here to celebrate our religion."

Jaspreet Kaur says the words proudly as she marches down Tauranga's streets alongside more than 2500 other people.

Dressed in traditional Sikh attire, Jaspreet explains she is celebrating the 10th Guru's birthday for Tauranga's seventh annual Sikh parade.

Either side of Jaspreet are her friends Baljinder Kaur and Sukhbir Kaur, who are a picture of colour in their pink, yellow and multi-coloured scarves - known as chunni or dupatta.

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Baljinder Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur and Sukhbir Kaur. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Baljinder Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur and Sukhbir Kaur. Photo / Zoe Hunter

Leading the parade is Puran Singh, president of the Sikh community in Tauranga.

Puran says more than 2500 people attended the parade, which was celebrating the 10th Master Guru Gobind Singh's birthday.

"It is very colourful," he says. "We are showing what the guru asks us to do, which is helping people if they are hungry, we give them food. If they are in trouble, we help them."

Kanwaljit Singh, who is and Indian-born-New Zealand politician and a member of the National Party, says he had attended the festival every year.

"It is fantastic that people from all over the Bay of Plenty are here to celebrate the annual festival," he says.

"We are very proud. It is an amazing experience."

Kanwaljit Singh, Puran Singh and Gurpal Singh. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Kanwaljit Singh, Puran Singh and Gurpal Singh. Photo / Zoe Hunter

Attending the festival for the first time, Tauranga mayor Tenby Powell was impressed by the colour and atmosphere.

"This is the second-largest Sikh community in the country behind Auckland. It is really important we find ways of understanding each other better and to work better together," he says.

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"It is a vibrant and colourful culture, something we should embrace."

Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber, who was dressed in colourful traditional Sikh attire, says the festival was a significant part of the Tauranga and Western Bay community.

"We have got to recognise how diverse we are," he says. "This is what the welcoming communities project both councils are working together on is all about, welcoming people into our community."

Tauranga-based Labour list MP Jan Tinetti says this was also her first time attending the festival.

"It is times like this we start to understand diversity better," she says. "It means we are really embracing all members of our community."

Jan Tinetti, Tenby Powell and Garry Webber. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Jan Tinetti, Tenby Powell and Garry Webber. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Some of the men leading the parade. Photo / Zoe Hunter
Some of the men leading the parade. Photo / Zoe Hunter