Delivering sweets on auspicious days such as when someone has a baby or is getting married is part of Indian culture.
For those living in Tauranga though, it meant driving almost 200km to buy the sweets in Auckland and bring them back, hoping they’d last the distance in a car.
Puran Singh realised it would be a good idea to make the sweets in Tauranga, as it would appeal to not only the local Indian community, predominantly made up of Sikh, Hindu and Punjabi, but to other similar cultures such as Pakistani, Fijian and Bangladeshi.
“At the time I owned Fraser St Food Market,” says Puran. “Owning a corner dairy was the typical Indian thing to do but when I found out the shop next door was vacant I decided to open an Indian sweet shop.”
Puran wasn’t sure how well Kiwis would accept it but felt that the Indian community and other cultures had a large enough presence for the business to be successful.
Furthermore, his great grandfather had a similar business in India.
It was so popular he had to find somewhere bigger, eventually opening on Cameron Rd.
Family is important to Puran and his wife Paramjit Kaur who both have family living in Tauranga. He arrived in New Zealand in 2002, and their marriage, pursuant to Indian tradition, was arranged by family members.
Paramjit – known as Pam, arrived in New Zealand in the 1990s and has worked for the Melrose Rest Home for more than 15 years.
One of their three children is studying law at Auckland University, and the other two are at Otumoetai College and Tauranga Boys’ College.
Every year, Puran organises the Tauranga Sikh parade. Held in the first week of January and hosted by Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga, the parade starts at the Burrows St temple, with hundreds of people participating in a colourful display that marks the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhs.
As there are strong Indian communities in Te Puke and Papamoa, Puran recently opened a second Indian sweet shop in Te Puke. He’s seen dramatic changes in Tauranga in the past 15 years.
“When I arrived, the Indian community were mainly working in the agriculture sector, but now so many of us own businesses, work in hospitals and banks.
“India has changed too. I recently went back for a holiday and noticed the big motorways, the amazing architecture and growing economy. But I love New Zealand. I love how diverse and multicultural it is. I love how all cultures are respected and encouraged to practice their religion. It has always been a safe place to live.”