It was past 9:00 PM this past Tuesday. K looked weary. I was tired. Are you sure? K asked. For a moment I wavered. Perhaps it was simpler to not make the effort. To blame work and kids and life for the lack of energy. I nodded. While K picked up the stray toy in the family room, I slipped away to evaluate where best to set up the Golu. It had been years now. After Appa passed away, I could not bring myself to celebrate, to socialize. Then it was Paati and then Chithi. This year I figured I needed to make the effort. To restart a tradition hopefully.
The next two hours saw us lug assorted boxes from the basement, arrange and rearrange them to mimic a staircase pattern and lay layers of off white veshtis over the motley assortment till it resembled the Golus of our collective past. I dug out the bommais and the set of Santa dolls I had picked up at the dollar store a day before. Before we knew it, we both were standing back to admire our efforts. It was way past bedtime for a weekday.
The next few days flew past the highlights of which was the food, people and vibrant colored silks in no particular order. As the weekend came to a close, I realized that a few moments that would be the highlight of this Golu season would be the food, the laughter and the colors. The hours of slaving over the stove so friends and family could sit , eat, talk and play with our girls. Each evening that we had people over or we visited friends, I took time to dress Kay and Cee in pattu paavadais and simple jewelry. Each day as I cupped their tiny faces in my hands to draw a black bindi on their forehead, I felt my eyes watering. As I blew the little dot dry, and watched them close their eyes I realized this is why I wanted to keep Golu.
The need to pass on tradition. The need for my daughters to grow up remembering vibrant colors, lots of food and laughter. The association between the smells of agarbathi, camphor and heating oil. The memories of brown paper bags filled with fruit, manjal, kumkumam and money. The intangible feeling of belonging. Being a part of a community that comes together to celebrate and care for.