Takanini Gurudwara, the biggest and the first Sikh temple in New Zealand, fed a whopping 25,000 attendees on Sunday, October 27 on the occasion of Bandi Chhor Diwas.

Men, women and children from Auckland, preachers and representatives from almost every Gurudwara in New Zealand travelled to the temple in South Auckland to participate in one of the biggest festivals of the Sikh community.

Bandi Chhor Diwas is a Sikh festival that coincides with the Hindu festival of Diwali, which is celebrated in a similar manner to that of Diwali where community members decorate their homes, and temples with lights, visit family and friends, exchange gifts, and conduct special prayers for the community.

Bandi Chhor Diwas is celebrated with great pomp and show in all the Gurudwaras in the world, especially the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, where the attendees are in hundred thousand from across the globe.

The Supreme Sikh Society of New Zealand, the umbrella body of Takanini and Otahuhu Gurudwara, conducted the event that started from 4 a.m. on Sunday until 11 p.m. concluding the event with massive fireworks for the attendees.

“We had preachers who had travelled from Hamilton, all corners of Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga, Palmerston North and some from the South Island too who conducted prayers sessions, Kirtan and Ghadhi Jatha at different intervals of the day,” Daljit Singh form Supreme Sikh Society told The Indian Weekender.

“The prayers were held throughout the day engaging attendees so that everyone coming to the Gurudwara whatever time of the day can participate in the prayer service and Kirtans,” he added.

Present at the event were also newly elected councillors for Manurewa-Papakura ward, Angela Dalton and Daniel Newman who lauded the efforts of the Gurudwara Trust and said they would support the activities of the temple for the wider community.

Eight quintals (800 kgs) of flour was used to make chapatis, five quintals (500 kgs) of curries was made by the Gurudwara and 12,000 burgers sponsored by Sikh Youth to feeding the attendees at the event.

“We estimated 20,000 people, but the response was overwhelming and had 5,000 more people who came to the event and made it successful,” Mr Singh added.

The Gurudwara also opened the newly built childcare centre at the premises that was inaugurated by the children at the event.

“We got the children as young as three years old to cut the ribbon and inaugurate the newly constructed childcare centre accompanied by their parents,” Mr Singh added.

Besides the prayer services, the Gurudwara also arranged Gatka, Sikh martial art, presented by the youth of the community who entertained the wider community present at the venue.

“The Gurudwara was packed with people and car parked in the adjoining area for almost two kilometres from the temple who flocked to the venue till late in the evening,” Mr Singh added.

The event concluded with a massive firework, a big highlight of the event that started at 10:30 p.m. for 15 minutes that brightened the skies with beautiful patterns and colours.

The temple’s FIFA approved football ground and the biggest sports ground inside Gurudwara premises in the world is set for inauguration on March 15, 2020.