SUR SADAN IS THE CULTURAL EPICENTRE OF AGRA. The auditorium hosts many of the city’s most significant cultural events, and stands in a compound along one of the main roads through the city centre. Potted plants, arrayed a few paces from each other, form a ring around the auditorium building, and manicured shrubs and small trees line the roads and walkways. On the morning of 10 July, every pot had a saffron flag planted in its soil, and every shrub and tree within easy reach had one dangling from its branches. The flags bore a circular logo of a flaming torch held aloft against a silhouette of the Indian subcontinent. Four bold letters above it announced “ABVP.”
Every year, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, a student group affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, celebrates the anniversary of its founding, on 9 July 1949, as rashtriya chhatra diwas, or national students day. As part of this year’s anniversary proceedings, the ABVP’s Agra unit held a two-week plantation drive across the city. Sur Sadan had been chosen to mark its conclusion.