Sikh community in Tauranga came out on the streets in thousands on Sunday, January 5, to participate in the seventh annual Nagar Kirtan (city parade) which is held on the occasion of tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh’s birthday.

The event was attended by children, men, women and senior citizens who clad in ethnic Indian and Sikh dresses doing different activities through the parade in the city.

Nagar Kirtan in Tauranga has become one of the most popular events in the calendar of the city that is well received by the Sikh community.

The parade is not just an activity but a celebration of the Sikh religion and a mean to spread the teachings of Guru Govind Singh to the community.

The parade started from Gurudwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga walk through the CBD and circling back to the temple. Children and adults dressed in their ethnic bright yellow and indigo blue gatka uniform and presented gatka in the background of soaring kirtan music to the public gathered on the streets.

Gatka is a form of Sikh martial arts learnt and practised by the Sikh community. Some of the men walking in the parade carried the saffron flag representing the Sikh community.

A trailer decorated in flowers carried seniors and musicians who played the live harmonium, tabla singing kirtan throughout the parade.

The parade was led by the president of the Sikh Sangat in Tauranga Pooran Singh followed by the drenched floral trailer, men, women and children who cleaned the road using a broom, performed gatka on the way and spoke to the inquisitive crowd about Sikhism and its teachings.

“We had extraordinary participation from the community in Tauranga, and we had people who had come from outside the city to attend and make the parade successful,” Pooran Singh said.

Approximately 3000 people from Tauranga and the outskirts of Bay of Plenty attended Nagar Kirtan event. Parliamentarians attending the event were Minister of Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa, and National Party MPs Dr Parmjeet Parmar and Kanwaljit Bakshi who said he makes sure to participate in this event in Tauranga every year.

Mayor of Bay of Plenty Garry Webber and Mayor of Tauranga, Tenby Powell also attended the event where he draped the Sikh turban, and ethnic Indian Kurta during the event.

“We were really impressed by the participation from women in our community and the youth (girls and boys) who volunteered for different activities during the parade, such as looking after the traffic, road safety, providing water and refreshments to the participants, arrange langar, cleaning and making sure everything went smooth,” Mr Singh added.

Mr Singh concludes that the key message behind this annual exercise is to spread the values of Sikhism and teachings of our Gurus to the community such as helping the ones in trouble, providing shelter to the homeless, feed the hungry and treat everyone with love, respect and dignity.