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Chandigarh

NOT IDLE WHILE THEY GUARD THE IDOL Female bouncer duo creates buzz at old city Ganpati pandal

August 14, 2019 06:12 AM

COURTESY MIRROR AUG 14

NOT IDLE WHILE THEY GUARD THE IDOL
Female bouncer duo creates buzz at old city Ganpati pandal
Mandal impressed with new hires, says they’re already doing better job handling traffic, crowds than male predecessors; plans to hire more female security staff
| Supriya.Dedgaonkar@timesgroup.com TWEET @supriya_mirror

As the city gears up to welcome one of its favourite annual festivals, Ganpati mandals have started on their pandals to welcome the Elephant God, with work being executed at a rapid pace to ensure eye-catching tributes, whether simple or grand. Accompanying this activity is also a significant rise in traffic chaos, as visitors on foot and on wheels mill around the structures, hoping to catch a glimpse of upcoming festive attractions.

This is where female bouncers Chhaya Jadhav and Asmita Wasnik step into the picture.


Hired just last week by Kasture Chowk Tarun Mandal, the duo has now replaced the customary male bouncers that are usually deployed near the pandal in the heart of the city — and their employers could not be happier about this decision.

Jadhav and Wasnik have also become a talking point for crowds frequenting Kasture Chowk near Raviwar Peth, and mandal members insist they’re much better at avoiding conflict and managing people and traffic than their earlier male counterparts. “We first saw the women bouncers at a recent blood donation drive organised by a Marathi actor in the area, and were impressed by their demeanour,” said mandal president Jaywant Mankar, adding, “We thought of hiring them to manage the scene at our pandal, too, to see if they can handle it any better than our previous bouncers.” Kasture Chowk Tarun Mandal’s Ganpati pandal attracts thousands each year during Ganeshotsav, and is usually fairly famous for the decorations it cooks up. Several Marathi celebrities also count themselves among its annual visitors, making an appearance to offer prayers and seek blessings. Besides, one of the main reasons it is essential to hire security here is the amount of gold worn by the idol.

Both in their early forties, Jadhav and Wasnik have been trained by an organisation called Ranragini, which has brought over 500 women into this niche field from different backgrounds, be it housewives or struggling unemployed women. The two women have been in the business for 2.5 years or so invigilating events, and till date, have not provided their employers with any chance for complaint.

Speaking to Mirror, Jadhav explained, “We have been trained to accomplish multiple tasks at a time, such as keeping an eye on security, managing traffic, ensuring no abnormal activities are taking place, and lots more. We are paid well here, much better than what we would have got at other places. We have also undergone selfdefence training, but follow instructions to not hit anyone unless in an extreme situation.”

Wasnik added, “This is the best job I have ever had. People listen to you and respect you — sometimes by choice, sometimes with no other option. I have previously worked in the security sector for a few years and then trained to be a bouncer. There are struggles in this field, too, but I have learnt to overcome them with time, whether it be managing a gathering of thousands or dealing with drunkards.”

At a pay of Rs 15,000 a month, Jadhav and Wasnik will be deployed around the pandal from now through Ganeshotsav, till Anant Chaturdashi on September 12. Their eight-hour shift typically ranges from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm and then from 4.30-8.30 pm, which happen to be peak traffic hours.

As per mandal members, having women bouncers at the venue has led to less “macho conflicts”, and they claim that more visitors tend to show them respect and actually listen to their instructions. They believe the duo has shown more dedication and consistency than their male predecessors, and favouring this ethic, they have decided to hire more female security staff during the festival, starting September 2.

“Every year, we need bouncers to manage the chowk for several situations that arise during the Ganpati festival, be it traffic or theft. Our hires for 2019 are brilliant at the work they do,” asserted Mankar.

With this year’s revelries marking the 100th anniversary of the mandal’s formation, its members will also offer 101 tola of gold to Ganpati on Ganesh Chaturthi. For this, they wish to stay extra cautious on the security front, to ensure there are no theft attempts.

Another mandal member, Vijay Kondhare, added, “It has taken just one week for us to gauge the difference these women make to their job. They may not be as strong as a male bodybuilder, for instance, but their smart work makes up for it. People seem to be cooperating more easily with them, which is new! Until last year, we saw many fights crop up with our bouncers, often forcing us to step in to resolve the issue

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