Prepare to drench yourself in vivid powder paint and water if you are attending the ancient Hindu festival of Holi in Whangarei next week.

Students from different Indian states studying at NorthTec will perform traditional singing and dancing prior to a riot of exuberance and colour, with participants smearing vivid powder paint on each other and throwing water, on Thursday. Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that traditionally heralds the arrival of spring in India and is held to celebrate life through the use of colours.

A small-scale celebration with about 80 people in attendance was organised at the campus last year but this year's event would be a big one.

A brainchild of NorthTec international marketing manager Sakshi Vij, the Holi day paint throwing spectacle is open to the public from 11.30am to 3.30pm, free of charge, at the campus' Apprentice Cafe. The only charge is $7 for an Indian lunch.

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The event will open with prayers and welcome speeches, followed at noon by lunch and traditional singing and dancing, before the shooting of colours.

"I wanted to get something so that international students feel at home," said Ms Vij, who hails from Amritsar district in the Indian state of Punjab. "Holi is very popular in the north of India but not so popular in the south, whereas Diwali is celebrated throughout the country.

"The international students enrolled in February, so this is a good time for them to see and take part in cultural events and mingle with staff and the public so their year goes well."

NorthTec international operations manager Rachelle Eilering said Holi was often described as "the most colourful festival in the world".

"We welcome members of the community to join in the fun but they should be prepared to end up soaking wet and covered in paint."

NorthTec has 78 students from India and about 160 from different countries.

Holi Day is also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It is a day for breaking down social barriers and bringing people together to wish each other "happy holi", and repairing broken relationships through forgiveness and joy.