A day in the life of Saavaj – The National Games mascot
"My entire day here always goes well. I feel good when people come and click photos with me. Who clicks photo with a house help otherwise?" a Saavaj said.
Ahmedabad: Saavaj has been synonymous with the ongoing 2022 National Games here in Gujarat ever since it was revealed as the mascot for the grand event last month.
Saavaj, which translates into a lion in Gujarati, is a representation of India's cultural heritage whilst also giving a glimpse of a very rapidly growing country.
"Aa badhu mane nahi khabar (I do not know all this)," laughed Aakash, who dons the role of a mascot at the Sanskhardham Sports Complex, when enquired about if he knows what the Saavaj stands for.
Hailing from Bopal Gam – some 5kms from the Sports Complex, Aakash rides a shared auto to the venue for his daily duty of entertaining the crowd which is mostly made of nearby school kids.
"I reach here in the morning and leave in the evening. I spend my entire time here these days. There is no fixed timing. I reach early if the matches start early and if it starts late, I come late," he revealed.
Aakash, who usually works as a house help, reveals this is his first time doing something like this.
"I have not done anything like this before. Todhu mushkel toh che, aa mask na andar ghutan thaye ek 5 minute nu chakkar maru etla ma…pan majja toh aave che (It is a bit difficult, I feel suffocated inside the costume even if I do a 5-min round…but it is fun)," he said.
The Saavaj revealed that he just has to work at just one venue throughout the duration of the National Games and gets paid INR. 550/- per day.
"Ahi toh aakho divas saras ajj jaye che. Loko aavine photo padave maari jode toh mane saru lage. Aam ek kachra pota vada jode kon photo padave? (My entire day here always goes well. I feel good when people come and click photos with me. Who clicks photo with a house help otherwise?)," he said.
Aakash further states that despite him spending most his time at the stadium, it is only when he is in the Saavaj costume that people try and talk to him.
"I do not roam around wearing the costume the entire day because it is impossible with all the suffocation. Aa kapdu nhi pehryu hoy toh khali volunteers ajj vaat kare, ae pan kahva ke mask pehri lo time thai gayu che (If I am not in this costume, it is usually just the volunteers who talk to me, that too is mostly to ensure that I am on time)," he said.
"Saheb tame pan vaat toh etle ajj karo cho karan ke tamne kaam che maru (Sir, you are also talking to me because you need my help)," Aakash smiled.