Golu is very big in Michigan and a busy time of the year since lots of households participate in keeping it. During the nine day period, there's a lot of running around visiting everyone's household, and inviting everyone you know to your home. The whole family including husbands and kids take part in it. We have lots of snacks and food for everyone. I was inspired to keep golu after visiting others during the first year of my stay in Michigan, and I have in turn passed that inspiration to others.
My first golu was 3 years ago; it had nine steps and had a very simple traditional look to it. Every year I strive to add new dolls and create different themes. I added the Brahmotsavam set my second year, and this year added bridal couples from different parts of India. In the near future I would like to do a Sundara Kandam theme, and maybe a temple with a big tank the year after that. Each year, I like to give my guests thematic vethla pakku. Last year I gave Thanjavoor paintings with matching vethla pakku bags and this year I had a Krishna theme.
Golu also means family time for me. It is always nice to spend time with them and to have their support. I get a lot of support from my family. I have a great time discussing and deciding on vethala paaku themes with my sister Lalitha, who lives in India and who goes scouting for new ideas. My other sister Janaki (from California), my niece Pavithra (from Boston), her daughter Lakshya and my daughter Janaki, all visit me and help. We have a wonderful time arranging everything and exchanging different ideas.
On the whole Golu is a fun time of the year that reminds me of being back home in India.